International motor shows are the cornerstone of the global automotive industry, where new and established brands display future concepts and production-ready highlights to the world’s media. Driven travelled to the 2023 Shanghai Auto Show courtesy of Chery South Africa to discover what this rising brand has planned for local introduction. We also had the opportunity to drive several new models planned for local introduction.

In 1898, 12 years after Carl Benz patented his “vehicle powered by a gasoline engine”, the world’s first motor show was held in Paris, France. Started by then-pioneer Jules-Albert de Dion, the Paris Motor Show introduced the world to the idea of carmakers publicly showing their work to car enthusiasts and the media.

Today, the international motor show remains a fundamental aspect of the industry. However, the circuit is no longer dominated by Europe-based shows as mammoth spectacles such as Auto Shanghai (officially called the Shanghai International Automobile Industry Exhibition) attracts millions of online viewers and, this year, over 900,000 visitors from across the globe. 

First held in 1985, Auto Shanghai is China’s oldest auto exhibition and is considered one of the motoring world’s premier international shows. This year’s event was hosted across 8 halls covering 360,000 m2 of the National Centre for Exhibition and Convention, where as many as 1,413 vehicles were on display, with 93 global debuts, 64 concepts, and 271 new energy vehicles, 186 of which were from Chinese brands including our hosts, Chery International.

As China’s largest exporter of vehicles for 20 consecutive years, Chery is also growing in prominence in South Africa and used the occasion to showcase its Omoda and Jaecoo brands to over 13,000 journalists, including Driven.


New Energy Vehicles featured prominently at this year’s show, and Chery made hay of this fact by revealing its third-generation plug-in hybrid electric vehicle platform (PHEV). Although no time frame has officially been disclosed, Chery South Africa plans to introduce this plug-in powertrain in an updated version of the Tiggo 7 Pro in the future.

Chery also revealed to **Driven (during an extended media trip to the brand’s home base in the city of Wuhu) that the Tiggo 7 Pro range will be extended to include new 1.6-litre turbo models (with a new dual-clutch transmission set-up) in front-wheel-drive (FWD) or all-wheel-drive (AWD) form. 

Dubbed Tiggo 7 Pro+, the updated car will showcase refreshed exterior styling and a new interior (we drove both versions at a specially developed test track in Wuhu) and launch here in the third quarter.

Moreover, the Tiggo 8 Pro will receive similar cosmetic enhancements alongside the new 1.6-litre turbo engine and dual-clutch transmission later this year. The new models (also called Pro+) will be available in either FWD or AWD and are expected in the third quarter, while the 187 kW 2.0-litre Tiggo 8 Pro Max is rumoured to get all-wheel-drive surefootedness by the end of 2023 as well.


South Africa was introduced to the Omoda brand barely a week before Auto Shanghai, with the brand’s stylish 1.5-litre four-cylinder C5 crossover the first model to be launched. Omoda (which functions as an independent brand from Chery) also plans to expand its range later with the 1.6-litre powerplant, with FWD and AWD derivatives being discussed. We briefly tested both these urban luxury crossovers in China, and can’t wait to enjoy more time behind the wheel on home soil soon.

An exciting and unexpected debut on the Chery International stand was the all-new Jaecoo nameplate, which will officially be introduced in the country by early 2024.

Jaecoo’s first production model is the Tiggo 7 Pro-based Jaecoo 7, or J7 for short. Also a crossover, the J7 speaks to a more adventure-inclined luxury car customer and heavily emphasises superior technology and distinctive style. 

Powered also by Chery Group’s 1.6-litre turbo petrol engine and dual-clutch combo, the FWD J7 was a revelation to drive, albeit only on a tight, and short, test track. Handsome and competent, the J7 will likely find instant appeal with local buyers looking to stand out from the crowd.


To the uninitiated, a motor show on the scale of Auto Shanghai can be extremely overwhelming, with several global debuts taking place at once and thousands of eager showgoers scrapping for a first glimpse of the motoring future at every stand. At the same time, it’s the stuff motoring journalists and car fans the world over live for. 

And, while brands such as Chery are successfully pioneering a second bite of the local market for Chinese cars, if anything, Auto Shanghai revealed that we’re still merely scratching the surface of the burgeoning Chinese car market, now the largest in the world by some margin.


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