Top 5 Electric Vehicle News Stories of Week 49 2017

Top 5 Electric Vehicle News Stories of Week 49 2017

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TOP EV NEWS #1 – VEHICLES AS A SERVICE

More and more automakers are taking the disruption in mobility caused by the tech sector serious and are developing alternative business plans to stay relevant in a future where we are free from car ownership and services are stacked on a mobile platform. The German Volkswagen Group newly acquired start-up Moia unveiled it’s six-seater electric ridesharing vehicle the Moia Concept at the Techcrunch 2017 in Berlin. The Moai was developed in only 10 months and is expected to be commercially available by the end of 2018. The rollout starting in Hamburg is aimed to reduce traffic congestion in cities through Moia’s “One million cars of the road” mission. The Moia ecosystem includes a mobile app which algorithm groups customers with similar destinations to optimise cost and trips on the road.

The car developed through a co-creation process with multiple rounds of potential customers of all demographics has a range of more than 300 kilometers according to WLTP-standard and can be charged up to 80 percent in about 30 minutes. The car was developed and designed exclusively for ride pooling services, with ample space and individual seating so that passengers who wish to have no contact with other passengers feel comfortable onboard.week 49 vw moia electric ridesharing car

One of the fathers of the modern day EV and prominent Chinese entrepreneur, Wang Qicheng (Jack Wong) brought their companies together to develop new mobility trends and the elevation of integrated smart city concepts. Fisker Inc and Hakin Unique Group this week unveiled an electric autonomous shuttle, the Fisker Orbit, which will be delivered by Fisker from the end of 2018. Fisker Inc. and Hakim Unique Group will co-develop the autonomous shuttle ‘Fisker Orbit,’ in which Fisker Inc. will be responsible for technology development and product design, while Hakim Unique Group will be responsible for marketing and operation in China/Asia.

week 49 top ev news fisker orbit

General Motors Co. (NYSE: GM) this week started with the rollout of what GM calls the first-ever commerce platform for on-demand reservations and purchases of goods and services, although I am certain some Chinese companies such as Baidu have already started similar services. Marketplace, allows eligible Chev, Buick, GMC and Cadillac cars to order food, find the closest gas station to save on fuel and make dinner reservations on the go.

“The average American spends 46 minutes per day on the road driving (according to the AAA). Leveraging connectivity and our unique data capabilities, we have an opportunity to make every trip more productive and give our customers time back,” said Santiago Chamorro, vice president for Global Connected Customer Experience, GM. “Marketplace is the first of a suite of new personalization features that we will roll out over the next 12 to 18 months to nearly four million U.S. drivers.”

For a list of the first brands accessible through Marketplace click here. The question now is how will Apple, Amazon, Google and other platforms react to the competition from the auto sector in their domain?

Week 49 top ev news gm marketplace

TOP EV NEWS #2 – CHINA REWORKING EV SUBSIDY

Aspects of the anticipated 2018 New Energy Vehicle rules for China revealed this week sent some EV related companies shares sliding. Bus and lithium cell companies were hardest hit as subsidies for buses is expected to be impacted the most. From the leaked 2018 NEV subsidy plan the new rules aim to incentives technology advancements to bring longer range EVs to market. The new requirements lift the threshold for energy density and fuel saving level while increasing the range whereby EVs can qualify for subsidies. The rules also put stricter requirements on load capacity consumption (Ekg).

To qualify for subsidies according to the 2018 rules vehicles will have to:

  • Reduce energy consumption to no higher than 2.1kWh/100km down 14% from the 2017 level of 2.4kWh/100km;
  • Energy density requirements are increased from 0.15Wh/kg to 0.2Wh/kg;
  • Vehicles with a range below 300km will lose between RMB 4,000 and 20,000 on subsidies while vehicles with a range over 300km will see a bump in their allowable subsidy;
  • Vehicles with a range below 150km will not qualify for subsidies, thereby in effect disqualifying the Plug-in hybrid

The subsidy for buses will come down to RMB 270,000 from RMB 450,000, a decrease of 66.6% while other commercial vehicles will also see their subsidy slashed by around RMB 75,000.

It will be interesting to see how foreign companies such as Ford adapt their EV strategies according to the new ruling. Ford this week announced that it would release 15 EVs in China by 2025. Ford who only have one EV in China, the Changan Ford Mondeo Energi with a range of 22 miles, does already not qualify for the current threshold of 32 miles.

In related news, Slovakia extended its year-old incentive of €5,000 for pure electric and €3,000 for plug-in electric vehicles to June 2018. Sofar 264 pure electric and 165 plug-in vehicles have been sold under the plan which contributed €1.8 million of the allocated €5.2 million set aside for the adoption of EVs.

TOP EV NEWS #3 – SAAB 9-3 REBORN AS NEVS STARTS PRODUCTION

The success rate for Chinese start-ups announcing the release of a new EV to physical production has been rather dismal if one considers names like Youxia and Faraday Future. This week, however, saw the start of production by NEVS of its 186 miles (300km) NEVS 9-3 model, a reborn SAAB 9-3, at the company’s Tianjin facility in China. NEVS which acquired SAAB in 2012 has been dogged with financial troubles from inception with a revolving door of investors which included Mahindra. Typical to many early EV start-up’s in China the company announced huge contracts for the supply of EVs in 2016 long before securing production capabilities. However, NEVS persisted and early in 2017 became one of only 15 companies with a permit to produce EVs in China. The Tianjin facility has a capacity of 50,000 units which will increase to 220,000 by 2019. The company also plans to start production at a plant in Trollhättan Sweden in the second half of 2018.

top 5 ev news week 49 nevs starts production

TOP EV NEWS #4 – TATA DELIVERS FIRST EV AND MAHINDRA SETS EV TIMELINE

On December the 6th Tata completed the first phase as the winner of the historic tender to deliver 10,000 EVs to the Indian Government. As per the requirement of the tender Tata delivered 250 Tigor EVs which will be followed by a further 100 units shortly. Tata Chairman, Mr. N. Chandrasekaran waved off the first Tigor EV from the production line at the plant in Sanand. Recently released specs of the Tata Tigor indicates that the EV will have a range of around 100km at a price of Rs 11.2 lakh. The Indian Government is expected to list a second tender in 2018 opening up the possibility for foreign automakers to compete in the Indian market.

Top ev news week 49 tata tigor tender

Autocar India reported that Indian automaker Mahindra and Mahindra has set a timeline for producing three EVs by 2020 with a range up to 350km. The first EV to be produced by the end of 2018 will be the Mahindra KUV100 hatch with a range of 350km, top speed of an amazing 186km/h and accelerating to 100km/h in just 9 seconds. The second vehicle is expected to be based on the SsangYong Tivoli and have a range of 250km, top speed of a sober 150km/h and accelerating to 100km/h in 11 seconds. The third EV, an SUV, is expected to be influenced by Mahindra’s XUV Aero Concept introduced in 2016. Previous reports put the XUV Aero performance at a range of 300km and accelerating to 100km/h in 8 seconds. The three EVs will be developed on a new drivetrain design with outputs ranging from 90kW to 165kW and high-density 48V to 650V battery systems, with energy densities between 80 to 200Wh/kg in packs ranging from 10kWh to 70kWh.

TOP EV NEWS #5 – WM MOTORS SECURES CASH TO PRODUCE AFFORDABLE EVs

China Money Network reported that Freeman Shen, the former CEO of Volvo China and CEO of WM Motors billed by US media as the Tesla Motors of China, announced this week Baidu Capital led the investment in its $150 million round capital raising.

Baidu, the Google of China and investor in NextEV, created a $3 billion investment fund to invest exclusively in the fast-growing electric vehicle market attractive at a time when the vehicle and the internet are moving closer to each other. According to Jenny Wu, managing partner of Baidu Capital “Baidu is dedicated to building a new generation artificial intelligence open platform for autonomous driving in China, while WM Motor is a leader in combining AI, hardware, software and services in China.”

WM Motors will unveil its first car affordable mass-market EV with a range of 600 kilometers priced below $30,000 on the 11th of December. Judging from the sneak peek the WM Motors EV will be loaded with tech including facial recognition.

WM Motors Top 5 EV news week 49

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China halting development of new combustion plants

China halting development of new combustion plants

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China halting development of new combustion plants

Recently the Chinese Government embarked on a program to clean up the electric vehicle sector which has been negatively impacted a confluence of companies rushing to produce electric vehicles lead to subsidy fraud and sub-standard products. At some point in 2016 over 200 companies had business plans to profit from the Chinese Government’s aggressive program to establish a dominant electric vehicle sector. A large number of the business operating in the sector had no previous experience in producing cars, among them were IT and Social Media companies such as Tencent (Future Mobility and Tesla), Baidu / BitAuto (NextEV) and LeEco (Faraday Future). The Chinese authorities became concerned that the unregulated development of the sector could lead to an oversupply of vehicles as the total planned capacity from the 200 companies reached over 50 million units annually, ultimately negatively impacting the sustainability of its program. At the end of 2016, the government closed or fined various manufacturers who were caught taking advantage of the subsidies to promote the adoption of electric vehicles. Further measures to regulate the industry included:

  • creating a list of battery manufacturers that are allowed to operate and supply technology to its electric vehicle sector,
  • regulating which automakers are allowed to produce electric vehicles in China through the issue of production certificates by the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), and
  • setting Electric Vehicle Management and Evaluation Rules through the Chinese Automotive Technology and Research Center.

 

Other adjustments were made to entry applications in the auto sector by requiring joint ventures with foreign automakers, such as Denza, to be approved by the investment department of the State Council, local manufacturers need approval from the relative provincial government. The State Council indicated that in principal new capacity to combustion plants should be capped effectively halting development of new combustion plants.

At the time of publication, only fourteen companies have so far received production certificates for new energy vehicles, the last being Guangdong GreenWheel Electric Vehicle Co. Ltd which received approval to develop a 50,000 unit plant in Mingcheng Industrial Park. Greenwheel indicated that the plant would be developed at a cost of $267 million ( RMB 1.783b ). To successfully apply for a production certificate, the applicant needs to convince the authorities that it can research and develop key technologies such as powertrains. The other companies with development certificates are BAIC BJEV, Changjiang EV, Qiantu Motor, Chery New Energy, Jiangsu Minan, Wanxiang Group (Karma Automotive), JMC EV, Chongqing Jinkang, NEVS, Yudo Auto, Know Beans, SD EV, and Hozon Auto.

Up to now Chinese auto manufacturers provided very sketchy specifications on the electric range of their models, mostly indicating how far the vehicle can travel at a constant speed of 60km/h. To protect and assist the consumer the Chinese Automotive Technology and Research Center for the first time introduced an EV Test through the issue of the Chinese First Electric Vehicle Management and Evaluation Rules. The first classification process should be completed in the second half of 2017. The classification would be done by a five-star rating focusing on the following key performance areas:

  • Power consumption,
  • Battery life,
  • Charging,
  • Safety, and
  • Performance.

The Chinese Government aggressive EV strategy targets the sale of 800,000 electric vehicles in 2017, increasing sales to two million units per annum by 2020. The top ten automakers, including FAW, Dongfeng Fengshen, Chana, SAIC, GAC Trumpchi, and Great Wall finalized production plans to produce over 4 million units by 2020 at a planned investment of $12 billion (RMB 80 billion ).

Interested in learning more about Chinese electric vehicles? Download our fun and easy app below, flick the China switch and swipe left the models you don’t like, right the ones you do, enter the chat rooms and share your thoughts with the community.

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Top 5 Electric Vehicle News Stories of Week 17 2017

Top 5 Electric Vehicle News Stories of Week 17 2017

#1 – Peak in oil due to EVs confirmed by Big Oil

Record breaking sales in the first quarter of 2017 reaffirm the trend set by the healthy sales growth experienced in the sector during 2016. All expectations are that 2017 would even be better and that the deluge of new models reaching dealership floors by the end of the decade will sustain the growth into the next decade, causing many stakeholders to adjust their forecasts upwards. We have covered most of these forecast adjustments, but the one sector that is forever dissing the sector, Big Oil, has as recent as Week 9 2017 maintained that the disruption caused by EV’s is overstated.

Finally, this week during the Bloomberg New Energy Finance Conference voices from the sector came out signaling that EV penetration will hurt oil demand. Total SA’s Chief Energy Economist, Joel Couse, projected that the impact of electric vehicles would cause the demand for oil to flatten or even decline by 2030. The CEO of Royal Dutch Shell shared the same sentiments recently as the company trimmed their forecasts, indicating that oil demand my peak by the late 2020’s. The reasoning behind the shift in outlook is sparked by electric vehicles being able to compete with combustion vehicles in both performance and price as battery prices decline.

Michael Liebreich, the founder of Bloomberg New Energy Finance, pointed out that there would be 120 models across the spectrum by 2020. He was quoted further saying what we already know – ”These are great cars. They will make the internal combustion equivalent look old fashioned.”

electric car news

Picture Source: Bloomberg New Energy Finance

#2 – VW continue to see electric vehicles only as a niche going into the next decade

The recent surge in Tesla‘s share price, which is close to the first target of $320 called by wattEV2Buy on the 3rd of April, has put a spotlight on traditional vehicle manufacturer electric vehicle strategies. VWs CEO, Mr. Matthias Müller, this week reprimanded the media for getting too carried away with the “New Beats Old” storyline. Mr. Müller was quoted by The Financial Times at the Vienna Auto Show on Friday, responding to Tesla‘s surge – “This has little to do wth the reality on our streets. The VW Group produced 10.3m vehicles last year – Tesla around 80,000, and the fact is, electric mobility continues to be niche. VW only see’s that one out of four of its vehicles would be electric by 2025.

The world’s largest automaker will spend around €20bn by 2022 on cleaner engines, of which only 45%, or €9bn, would be on alternative drive tech, which at least is a trebling over the amount of only €3bn spent over the last five years. The €9bn budget is less than the €11bn earmarked by fellow German automaker, Mercedes, over the same period. Analysts have been concerned over certain automakers conservative electric vehicle strategies in the face of Tesla and Chinas dominance in the sector.

#3 – Bollore exits the electric vehicle sector

The French industrialist, Vincent Bollore, one of the pioneers of the current electric vehicle revolution announced that he would retreat from the sector. Bollore introduced some of the first car-sharing schemes at the start of the decade, using its own vehicle the Bollore Blue Car, It created a second car, the Bollore Blue Summer, but contracted it out to Citroen, which sells it’s as the Citroen Mehari. Mr. Bollore cited that he can’t compete with only one car in the market as more and more players crowd it. Bollore will focus on its strengths, being battery technology, and will apply it in its grid storage and mass transit vehicles. Those who follows the data for France in our Global EV Sales section would have noticed that hardly any Blue Cars were sold in the country this year. Bollore uses a Lithium Metal Polymer Battery, which is not suited for cars, as the chemistry consume electricity even when off.

#4 – India to go all electric by 2030

India is set to introduce policies and support the country’s electric vehicle industry for three years as it targets to have a 100% electric fleet by 2030, in a bid to save on fuel import cost. The announcement was made by the country’s Energy Minister, Mr. Piyush Goyal at the CII Annual Session in New Delhi.

#5 – Tesla shareholder to unveil its own electric vehicle

Tencent-backed Future Mobility is set to unveil its concept vehicle this year with the intent on starting production in 2019. Tencent recently acquired a significant stake in Tesla by purchasing 5% of the US companies stock in the open market, making one wonder how it will impact on the investment with which it aims to compete. The concept vehicle is said to be a midsized SUV priced around $45,000. Chinese internet companies such as Tencent and Baidu are increasingly becoming active in the vehicle market as the bounds between cars and vehicle are falling away. Baidu introduced it’s Appollo self-driving platform last week, opening it up to developers to join in its development.

Top 5 Electric Vehicle News Stories Week 12 2017

Top 5 Electric Vehicle News Stories Week 12 2017

ONE


Geely’
s London Taxi Company (LTC) this week opened a dedicated 20,000 unit per year electric vehicle plant in the UK, bringing Geely‘s investment in the company to £325 million. The plant located in Antsy, Coventry is the first all-new vehicle manufacturing facility constructed in the UK for the last 10-years. The investment by Geely, the second investment from China in the UK sector over the last two weeks, will create more than 1,000 jobs, of which 230 will be engineering jobs. A couple of weeks back Shanghai-listed Far East Smarter Energy Group announced an investment in UK-based Detroit Electric for the manufacturing of the SP:01 EV, creating 400 jobs.

The taxi EV to be manufactured at the plant underwent stringent testing, including being exposed to extreme weather conditions while covering over 500,000 km / 310,000 miles. The London Taxi Company‘s research and development team of around 200 people, based at Antsy, have been developing the company’s lightweight EV platform. The platform together with Volvo’s electric car powertrain provides the basis for an ultra low emission commercial vehicle. The working relationship with Volvoanother Geely-owned company, provides further technical expertise to the LTC team. The commercial launch of the taxi is in the 4th quarter 2017 for the UK market and 2018 for the international market. 

London Taxi Company announced further that it would manufacturer a second vehicle at its new electric vehicle manufacturing facility. The company will produce a new range-extended Light Commercial Vehicle (LCV) EV for the international market, competing with the highly successful Renault Kangoo and Nissan e-NV200. Geely invested £30 million in research and development to bring the new LCV to market.

TWO

NextEV gets support for its autonomous car the NIO EVEBaidu Inc, the Chinese search engine this week led an investment round estimated at $600 million into NextEV.  Baidu, looking for new growth areas, created a $3 billion investment fund, Baidu Capital, found the fast-growing electric vehicle market attractive at a time when the vehicle and the internet are moving closer to each other. NextEV raised $500 million in 2016 from investors such as Tencent, who is also invested in Future Mobility, Hillhouse Capital, who also invested in UBER,  Sequoia Capital and Joy Capital.

THREE

A trademark complaint in China filed by Chery Auto will hamper Mercedes-Benz new electric vehicle brand EQ‘s international aspirations. The Chery eQ, one of the most popular EV micro car’s in China over the last two years share too much similarity for the German automaker to be allowed to use the name in the worlds’ largest electric vehicle market. The Chery eQ sold around 25,000 units since it’s launch in 2015, making it one of the top 10 electric vehicles in the country. Mercedes-Benz launched the EQ brand at the Paris Auto Show in late 2016 to house all its electric vehicle products and services. One can only wonder how a large corporate could have let that one slide! The EQ brand stands for “Electric Intelligence” and is the spearhead for Daimler’s efforts to have electric vehicles represent between 15% and 25% of its global sales.

FOUR

Mahindra and Mahindra Ltd is eyeing both luxury electric vehicles comparable to Tesla under the Pininfarina brand and mass market vehicles. Mahindra’s MD, Mr. Pawan Goenka made the comments in an interview with the Indian publication Live Mint. According to Mr. Goenka, he does not foresee the Indian Government to go the subsidy route. It is, therefore, necessary for EV prices to come down between Rs40,000-50,000 (around $750) for it to make financial sense. He admitted that the company is currently losing money on EV’s but that Mahindra is in it for the long haul, and will remain committed to the sector. Mahindra is targeting the Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) markets for its EV business.

FIVE

BMW is shedding some lite on its short-term electric vehicle strategy, according to Reuters, citing CEO Harald Krüger. The German automaker hinted that the Mini could be the BMW mass-market electric car, competing with the Tesla Model 3 and Chevrolet Bolt, as the company targets over 100,000 EV sales for 2017, up from 62,000 in 2016. Read our full blog on the press release here.

NextEV gets support for its autonomous car the NIO EVE

NextEV gets support for its autonomous car the NIO EVE

NextEV gets support for its autonomous car the NIO EVE in the same week in which a funding crisis ankle taped another aspirational EV startup from China, Faraday Future, backed by a Chinese internet company, LeEcoBaidu Inc, the Chinese search engine this week led an investment round estimated at $600 million into NextEV. NextEV, a global startup as it calls itself, with offices in China, Germany, UK and the USA launched it’s auto brand NIO, in December 2016 in London. NextEV is also one of the first participants of the Formula E franchise held in various cities around the world to promote electric vehicles. NextEV has its roots in racing, founded in 2004 by the Chinese Minister of Sports with the intent to be a Chinese contender in A1 Grand Prix. The NextEV TCR team eventually ended up being one of the first teams to compete in Formula E, winning the driver’s title in the first season but came last in the second season. The exposure nonetheless is a good testing ground for technologies, gaining experience and marketing. NextEV’s Formula E team lies at a respectable fourth position in the overall team standings after the third round in the third season, held in Buenos Aires Argentina during February 2017.

NIO unveiled its autonomous vision, to be released in the USA in 2020, the NIO EVE, at a world premiere event during the SXSW 2017 in Austin Texas. The NIO EVE is a Level 4 Automated electric vehicle for the US market, anticipated for release in 2020. NextEV partnered with MobilEye, recently acquired by Intel, NVIDIA and NXP Semiconductors to develop its autonomous vehicle. Along with the release of the NIO EVE, U.S. CEO Padmasree Warrior showed a video of the NIO EP9 completing the first historical feat of racing around the America‘s Track in Austin Texas without a driver, reaching a top speed of 160mph. The vehicle also broke a lap record with a driver.

Baidu, looking for new growth areas, created a $3 billion investment fund, Baidu Capital, found the fast-growing electric vehicle market attractive at a time when the vehicle and the internet are moving closer to each other. NextEV raised $500 million in 2016 from investors such as Tencent, who is also invested in Future Mobility, Hillhouse Capital, who also invested in UBER,  Sequoia Capital and Joy Capital.

Judging from the interest in NextEV‘s offering from investors consumers can certainly look forward to being wowed by NextEV while it pushes the boundaries, not being tied to the red tape associated with most Big Auto companies.

Read more on the Chinese internet billionaires investing in the fast-growing electric vehicle market at the following link.

 

 

Disruption draws world’s richest to the auto sector

Disruption draws world’s richest to the auto sector

The barriers to entry into auto manufacturing became ever higher over the last 100 years before the disruption caused by technological advances in electric vehicles and self-driving technology. Most of the auto brands that were around at the turn of the century have been around for 50 years or longer; the only newcomers was a spate of Chinese brands backed by the government. For an individual to reach the top 50 position on the Forbes list from vehicle manufacturing was only possible if your parents left you a trust fund with a bunch of 100-year-old stock in a big brand. In fact, the only Forbes Top 50 billionaire from the auto sector was the German’s, Herbert and Johanna Quandt who owned nearly 50% of BMW and Georg Schaeffler (Number 39 on Forbes 2016 list) who inherited the automotive parts company, Schaeffler Group. After their passing of Johanna Quandt, the children, Susanne Klatten (Number 38) and her brother Stefan Quandt (Number 48), became the beneficiaries. Mrs. Klatten invested her fortune in pharmaceuticals, helping her to gain over her brother.

Come to the turn of the century and along came Elon Musk, risking it all on a technology that has been shunned for 100 years by big auto. Being a start-up in a market controlled by a couple of dinosaurs was not easy at first, Mr. Musk had to back himself in the first couple of rounds of fundraising for the electric vehicle company, Tesla. The table below shows that Elon Musk pretty much up until late 2008 lead fundraising and loan rounds. The risk paid off as Elon Musk became by far the richest person in the US auto sector and at the time of going to press Elon Musk jumped to the 83rd position, up from 94 in the official 2016 Forbes list of the world’s richest people.

[supsystic-tables id=105]

Other early billionaires in the technology include the savvy investor Warren Buffet and Vincent Bollore. Warren Buffet, the world’s 3rd richest individual through his Berkshire Hathaway, controlled company, Mid-American Energy Holdings in 2008 bought 10% in BYD, a Chinese battery company, now the world’s largest electric vehicle manufacturer. The Investment at the time was $230m. Berkshire Hathaway is also a significant minority shareholder in GM.

Vincent Bollore, France’s 10th-richest person with an estimated personal fortune of $6 billion dollars, started manufacturing batteries in his company Bollore Blue Solutions. The firm, situated in Brittany province, who’s batteries are cheaper than lithium-ion cells used in other electric cars, allows it to hold down the cost of his small vehicles.

Suddenly investing in electric vehicles became sexy. Chinese billionaires, mostly from the technology sector, were the first to climb into the auto sector, some more successful than others. The Chinese electric vehicle boom is fuelled by government incentives targeting that 8% of all new vehicles should be EV’s by 2018.

The tech billionaire and founder of BitAuto, an online vehicle sales platform, William Li started the Shanghai-based NextEV.  The company raised $500M of an expected $1Bln already, sporting shareholders such as Tencent, who is also invested in Future Mobility, Hillhouse Capital, who also invested in UBER,  Sequoia Capital and Joy Capital. The company invested C¥3Bln in Nanjing High-Performance Motor Plant to produce 280,000 electric vehicles per year. NextEv also signed a partnership with one of the largest Chinese auto companies, JAC Auto which will see them share technology, manufacturing, supply chain, marketing, and capital.

Tencent mentioned above is owned by the world’s 46th richest person, Ma Huateng of China, also know as Pony Ma. Tencent, which applications include the popular WeChat app, aims to leverage its tech experience in a world where connectivity and the Internet of Vehicles will drive the auto industry. The development of electric vehicle technology provides a perfect platform for tech and vehicles to meet. To this end, Tencent created a company Future Mobility and targeted an autonomous vehicle by 2020.

The Chinese billionaire, Jia Yueting, founder of LeEco which owns LeTV, the Netflix of China invested in two electric vehicle companies, LeEco, which developed the acclaimed LeSee concept vehicle and Faraday Future, developer of the disastrous FF91, unveiled at the 2017 CES. Both businesses are known for making bold statements and big ticket announcements just to be followed by press reports of cash flow and funding problems.

The Chinese internet giant, Alibaba, owned and founded by Jack Ma who is 33rd on the 2016 Forbes list, invested $160M in a fund where it partnered with SAIC, one of the largest Auto manufacturers in the China to develop internet connected cars. The first car to come from the partnership is the Roewe OS RX5, where OS stand for Operating System and using SAIC’s luxury brand Roewe as a platform. The software runs on Alibaba’s YunOS operating system. Jack Ma unveiled the car in July 2016. The Alibaba Connected Car will have its own Internet ID, not needing WiFi or GPS services, enabling it to connect and identify drivers wattev2buy alibaba os rx5 internet carthrough their smartphones and wearables. The RX5 has four cameras providing it 360° vision and is voice controlled. The vehicle’s starting price is around $15,000 or C¥100,000.

Alibaba beat other carmakers and tech companies to the finish line with the 2016 release of the RX5. In 2015 Toyota invested $1 billion in artificial intelligence research, while Apple invested $1 billion in Chinese ride-hailing app, Didi Chixing. BMW went into partnership with technology firms Mobileye and Intel, providing the automaker with operating systems and driving assistance software while Kia and Google partnered around the search engine’s Android Auto operating system.

Robin Li, number 90 on Forbes List and owner of Chinese search engine Baidu, partnered with chipmaker Nvidia in September 2016 to develop a computing platform for self-driving cars. Baidu recently received approval from the Californian Department of Motor Vehicles to test autonomous vehicles, in Googles back yard. Baidu also partnered with BMW on creating an autonomous car.

Now that the floodgates are open, billionaires from around the world are looking to enter the electric vehicle and self-driving sectors. The world’s fourth richest man, Carlos Slim of Mexico, announced this early this year that he would back the development of a Mexican-produced electric vehicle through his company, Giant Motors in a joint venture with Grupo Bimbo, the world’s largest bread maker. The strategy plays off in an environment where many US based automakers are contemplating bringing production back to the USA amidst President Trumps America First policy environment. Mr. Slim said the electric vehicle would be designed specifically for Mexican conditions.

Bloomberg reported that the JSW Group’s owner and Chairman and India’s 19th richest man, Sajjan Jindal, announced in Davos, Switzerland his intention to enter the Indian Electric Vehicle market by 2020. The metals tycoon expects the Indian government, like many other governments, will promote EVs once it’s more affordable. 

It is clear that some of these businessmen are purely opportunistic, targeting to profit from regulation and subsidies for the promotion of electric vehicles.The majority, however, leverages their passions to bring better and more advanced options to the consumer at a much faster pace than what big auto ever moved in the last 50 years.

Although not mutually inclusive to electric vehicles, self-driving cars, deployable on combustion vehicles also, will drive the second phase of disruption in the auto sector over the next ten years. Self-driving car’s poster child is Google, owned by the 12th and 13th richest individuals in the world, Larry Page, and Sergey Brin. The company started testing it’s quirky autonomous vehicle as far back as 2009. Google recently spun the project into a standalone brand, named Waymo, meaning “a new way forward.” The company aims to partner with vehicle manufacturers instead of developing its own car. The first of such efforts was the conversion of 100 Chrysler Pacifica’s Plug-in Hybrid vehicles. Google, in many’s eyes, has lost the lead to Tesla, who’s progression was much faster and already has active Level 2 autonomy available in its production vehicles.

It will be interesting to compare the Forbes list of wealthy individuals ten years from now to one at the start of the century; we expect much more fresh faces who made their money from disrupting the auto sector. As a footnote, the lesson learned time and time again by dinosaurs in an industry are that they become too big, arrogant and slow, creating opportunities for new hungry entrants.

Picture: Source www.technewstoday.com