The subsequent wave of bold Chinese language automobile manufacturers are set to launch in Australia from 2023, becoming a member of now-established choices corresponding to MG, LDV, GWM, Haval and BYD.
We have already got a great gauge on plans this 12 months from Chery, JAC Motor, and GWM’s Tank and Ora manufacturers, however there’s one other OEM with proposed Aussie plans that we’ve devoted much less time to.
That model is Aion, a part of the sprawling Guangzhou Vehicle Co, shortened to GAC Group, which is headquartered in Zhujiang New City and listed on each Hong Kong and Shanghai inventory exchanges.
As with many Chinese language OEMs, it has targeted on joint-ventures with established marques, on this case Japanese ones. Energetic JVs embrace GAC Toyota, GAC Honda and GAC Mitsubishi, all made beneath license.
However because the Chinese language authorities turns ever extra to home manufacturers and home consumption, GAC has branched out – not simply with its personal vary of GAC-badged vehicles developed with what it gleaned from its JV companions, however through one other sub-brand.
This sub-brand is Aion, and it’s right here that we are going to get caught in.
GAC Aion New Vitality Vehicle Co Ltd was based on July 28, 2017 with a concentrate on ‘new vitality’ automobiles, with a extra premium skew. A bit has since been taken public to fund R&D expenditure.
The corporate has been bullish about its export plans, and like many others sees Australia as the perfect pilot market – it’s near China within the grand scheme, extremely aggressive and fragmented, and but has a sufficiently small scale that failure isn’t such a catastrophe.
Based mostly on our discussions with these working behind the scenes, we count on to see the primary Aion merchandise to enter sale in Australia from the second half of 2024, with the model to return on stream in earnest from 2025.
Like Tesla and Polestar, it’s anticipated to make use of a direct-to-consumer gross sales mannequin fairly than partaking with franchise vendor companions. That is an more and more widespread strategy from clean-slate EV manufacturers.
On the time of writing GAC Aion marketed eight fashions at house in China, solely a few of which will probably be starters for Australia, in manufacturing facility right-hand drive (one thing GAC Aion continues to be scaling).
Anticipated to be first off the mark is the youth-focused Aion Y Plus, a 4.5-metre lengthy high-riding MPV that hit China in September 2022. This EV affords claimed vary (on lenient Chinese language testing) of between 430km and 610km relying on battery alternative, with motor outputs of 150kW and 225Nm.
The opposite car Aion expects to supply at or close to launch is a new-generation SUV that’ll be a bit larger than the Y Plus. Aion at present sells the LX Plus and V Plus in China, and we perceive the Australian mannequin will probably be a next-gen successor to each.
Headline acts from a branding perspective would be the GAC Aion Hyper GT and Hyper SSR.
The Hyper GT is a wild-looking fastback that rivals the Tesla Mannequin 3, providing an extremely slippery 0.19Cd aerodynamic score, 250kW energy score, a 0-100km/h declare of 4 seconds, butterfly doorways, and a 900V structure. It even has LiDAR.
The corporate hopes that an up to date model of this automobile, probably together with a dual-motor efficiency mannequin, will are available in RHD round 2025.
Lastly, each model wants a halo product – not one designed to promote in nice quantity however fairly to function nice advertising and marketing. For GAC Aion, that is the LHD-only Hyper SSR supercar.
The Aion Hyper SSR, which GAC dubs “China’s first supercar”, has been designed to set “a brand new benchmark for China’s auto business” when it comes to each efficiency and manufacturing.
The corporate reckons the hi-po EV accelerates from 0-100km/h in an insane 1.9s in top-spec guise, or 2.3s in entry-level kind.
The e-motor with Porsche-style two-speed transmission pushes out a claimed 900kW (1225hp), which beneath full throttle “brings a robust push again feeling similar to a rocket launch at 1.7G”.
The corporate additionally mentions using aviation tyre tech with low warmth retention, and 900V silicon carbide chips that work 2.5-times quicker whereas drawing much less energy.
GAC Aion additionally produces the smooth Camry-sized S Plus sedan, however given native tastes this appears much less seemingly for us.