Several key DS Automobiles executives recently travelled to Auto Shanghai, where the French manufacturer showcased new products alongside its DS E-Tense FE19 Formula E show car.
China is a key market for every automotive manufacturer because of its size and position as the global leader in electric vehicle engineering and technology.
The International Energy Agency recently revealed that China buys more than half of the world’s new electric cars.
Reducing air pollution and developing a strong EV industry has seen the Chinese government introduce attractive subsidies over the last decade.
Shenzhen, which is home to DS’ Chinese factory, has a fleet of 16,000 electric buses, while its taxi infrastructure is now almost 100 percent electric too.
For DS Automobiles it is not difficult to see why China is such an important part of its marketing and technical objective for the coming years.
“When we decided to go to Formula E, I would say it was for three reasons,” Arnaud Ribault, Global Marketing and Communications SVP for DS Automobiles, tells e-racing365.
“One is the technical reason for electric cars and starting the development; the second one is to create the awareness of the DS brand because it is a new manufacturer and we are a premium brand that services the cities.
“The third reason is marketing and to understand what people want and how they want to interact with electric cars and future mobility options.”
The fruits of DS’ work in China are already visible and Formula E is a central part of that.
“We want to develop a better base in China, so we use Formula E and the feedback we get is very powerful,” said Ribault.
“As an example, in Sanya we had good results from the activity there. It was very promising for us.”
This momentum was being followed up at Auto Shanghai which got underway on April 16 and comes to a close on Thursday (April 25).
“The E-Tense cars are our full electric and plug-in hybrid cars,” Ribault explained.
“We launch now two cars, the DS Crossback E-Tense which is a compact SUV car with a 320 km range, and the other is the PEV DS7 Crossback with a 50 km full autonomy electric function.”
These cars are set to be commercialised in China with a major push on the E-Tense program for the Chinese marketplace.
Formula E Road Relevancy Links for Vergne
Ribault lived in China for four years in 2010-14 and believes that the growth of the EV industry in the country is perfect for a company of DS Automobiles’ ambition and technical capability.
Part of this is the link of relevancy between the technology seen in the Formula E cars and the E-Tense range being introduced into the Chinese marketplace.
“Accelerating technical partnership between DS Performance and R&D team is very important and very engaging,” he said.
“This goes for the key people as well as the technology because Jean-Eric Vergne is now the official ambassador of E-Tense for DS and its started on March 4 this year.
“We published a personal manifesto with Jean-Eric in 14 major newspapers in Europe laying out what his vision as on the future development of mobility, electrification and how we need to care more for the planet.”
Vergne is involved in the DS pre-production commercialization system in the sense that he will use his expertise as a development and research driver.
It is a role which the reigning Formula E champion is embracing and even learning nuances within his own skills.
“Jean-Eric is driving now in a different way on the road, it is very interesting the mentality,” said Ribault.
“When he sees a red light ahead he says he “lifts” so he can save energy. It is fascinating how your instincts change like this.”