Tesla, Chinese brands take centre stage at Munich car show

Tesla and Chinese carmakers showed off their newest electric models at the Munich auto fair, throwing down the gauntlet to their European rivals as competition in the sector intensifies.

The industry-wide shift towards electric vehicles (EVs) was on full display on the opening day of Germany's biennial IAA mobility show, one of the world's largest.

Homegrown giant Mercedes-Benz unveiled its CLA concept, a family of all-electric cars with a range of more than 750 kilometres, while BMW showcased its "Neue Klasse" generation of battery-powered vehicles.

Renault debuted its new Scenic, the French group's first full-electric compact SUV.

But it was the non-European brands that promised to steal the limelight at this week's fair.

Tesla returned to the IAA for the first time since 2013, sending visitors jostling for a glimpse of its revamped, mass-market Model 3.

Industry experts said Tesla's appearance in Munich was a sign it was taking the increased competition in the EV market seriously - especially from China.

Having already captured a sizeable chunk of the prized Chinese market, Chinese manufacturers were out in force at the fair, hoping to win over European drivers with cheaper electric cars.

Chinese groups were starting "their assault on Europe with the IAA", said analyst Ferdinand Dudenhoeffer from the Center for Automotive Research in Germany.

In all, 41 percent of exhibitors at the fair have their headquarters in China, including brands such as BYD, Leapmotor and Geely.

Chinese groups benefit from lower production costs, allowing them to offer cut-throat prices at a time when entry-level EVs are still a rarity.

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