A patriotic call by BYD, China's bestselling automaker, to band the industry together and "demolish the old legends" of the global market has gone viral, drawing both raves and a rebuke from a rival.
BYD used an event this week to mark a production milestone to celebrate a bigger purpose: the emergence of China as a global auto manufacturing powerhouse.
"I believe the time has come for Chinese brands," BYD founder and Chairman Wang Chuanfu said at the event, standing in front of an image of the logos of 12 major Chinese automakers.
"It's an emotional need for the 1.4 billion Chinese people to see a Chinese brand becoming global."
The call by BYD – Tesla's closest rival in the global electric vehicle sales race – prompted widespread praise, and underscored how China's automakers are riven by competition at home and chasing growth overseas.
China's automakers are locked in a bruising price war that was started by Tesla in January and which shows no signs of easing.
They are also all competing in the same global markets, where they face consumer wariness and sometimes regulatory roadblocks.
At its event on Wednesday, BYD released a video marking the founding of a dozen rivals from state-run automaker FAW Group in 1956 to commercial EV startups Xpeng, Nio and Li Auto in the past decade.
The video shows historical footage, sweeping vistas and cars being loaded for export. "Our stories are different from each other but share the same direction," the narrator says, adding in reference to overseas markets: "There is no distinction between 'you' and 'me'."
It ends with a call for China's automakers to "demolish the old legends and achieve new world-class brands," under the slogan, "Chinese Autos."