Look out, Tesla Model S. BAIC is coming to eat your lunch.
A confluence of factors has so far kept mass-market vehicles from Chinese-based automakers out of the US market - for better or worse. But it's no secret that the Sleeping Dragon has ambitions of penetrating the world's second-largest auto market, and given the country's penchant for electric propulsion, the next few years might just give Chinese OEMs their opening.
In fact, the Chinese auto invasion could kick off with something like this: the Beijing Radiance. The aptly named battery-electric vehicle is just a concept for now, but it previews a forthcoming production EV that could pose a credible threat to the Tesla Model S.
For starters, the Beijing Radiance has a targeted NEDC driving range of 800 km - or about 500 miles. The NEDC testing regimen is a bit more optimistic than the US Environmental Protection Agency's tests, but that should still translate to about 350 miles of range by the EPA's reckoning. That's plenty good for a modern production EV, handily outdriving the Nissan Leaf, Chevrolet Bolt, Jaguar I-Pace, Audi e-tron, and most vehicles in the Tesla lineup.
Moreover, the Beijing Radiance will feature an advanced autonomous driving system, probably classified as Level 3 or Level 4 autonomy following SAE standards, to match Tesla's Autopilot.
Pair those two key features with a subtly curvy sleek futuristic design and a cockpit fit for an alien spaceship, and the Beijing Radiance starts to look like a real contender in the burgeoning electric sedan segment.
At the moment, Beijing's plans for the Radiance aren't quite known; it's not a given that the car will ever be offered in the US market, and if it is, it's uncertain when EV shoppers should start keeping an eye out for it. We don't even know what sort of timeline the Radiance will follow in the Chinese market. But assuming BAIC's Beijing brand can make good on its promises and deliver the Radiance within the next few years, the company might just manage to make a meaningful impact on the American EV market.