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Bloomberg released an unconfirmed report on Tuesday that the Chinese Government would place a moratorium on the release of EV production certificates as the country tries to manage the sustainability of the sector. Although the report remained unconfirmed at the time of going to press shares of automakers with issued permits rallied on the news.
In 2016 the Chinese Government announced that it would limit the number of EVs produced by regulating the sector through the issue of production certificates. The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), a body that oversees investments in the centrally managed economy, announced that only ten permits would be issued to produce EVs. At the time a much as 200 companies, including 30 IT companies, had business plans to profit from the government’s program to promote electric vehicles. It was estimated that the anticipated production would far exceed 50 million units per year. The Government further feared that the rush of newcomers to the industry would lead to inferior products harming the sustainability of its strategy to dominate the EV sector.
In May 2017 I published an article on the permitting process and the products and strategies of companies with issued production certificates. At the time Shenzhen GreenWheel received the 14th permit, allowing the company to produce 50,000 per annum. Since then a 15th permit, possibly the last for the foreseeable future, was issued to the newly formed JAC/VW joint venture, granting a production certificate of 100,000 per annum.
The Chinese Government targets to add 2 million new energy vehicles to the national fleet per annum by 2020. In 2016 the country sold more than 500,000 taking the total of EVs on the country’s roads to over 800,000 units. Should the report hold true, it leaves the question what would happen to the business plans of companies such as LeEco and NextEV with much-publicised intentions to develop electric vehicles. As recent as February this year LeEco was forging ahead with breaking ground on its 200,000 plant in Deqing, Zhejiang Province, a $1.8 billion project. NextEV made big strides in electric and autonomous vehicle technology through its NIO brand, breaking production records and setting the first autonomous lap record in the process with its NIO EP9 sports car. The moratorium could very well be for a short while until the Chinese EV sectors show signs of recovering from its recent slump. The Chinese EV sector which showed double digit growth until 2016 grew only 7% for the year to date in 2017. If the moratorium is expected to last longer, the incumbents might look at approaching other countries to assist them in developing EV plants.
Click for a list of the Chinese automakers with EV production certificates and their models.
Honda released its mid-term strategy, Vision 2030, this week as the company plays catch-up to the rest of the market as most of the Japanese automaker’s competitors have already formulated strategies for autonomous and electric vehicles through 2025. Like most of its peers in Japan and Korea, Honda placed its bets on hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, losing valuable runway on the electric vehicle trajectory that most of the sector now find themselves on.
Reuters quoted CEO, Takahiro Hachigo “We’re going to place utmost priority on electrification and advanced safety technologies going forward,” as Honda acknowledged it must look beyond conventional cars to survive. The company targets to have new energy vehicles contribute two-thirds of its model range by 2030, up from 5% currently. Honda has employed nearly $7 billion in R&D spend by March 2018 to support its strategy.
The company further announced that it would unveil a model based on its new independently designed EV platform in the 3rd quarter of 2017. The company will also start selling the Honda Clarity EV in the USA for around $35,000 in the second half of 2017. Unfortunately, the expectations for the Honda Clarity to fail is high as it only has a range of 80 miles per charge, competing with the 2010 Nissan Leaf in 2018.
Henry Fisker, the EV pioneer behind “Tesla killed” (as opposed to Tesla killer) Fisker Karma this week, unveiled the design specification for its 2019 production vehicle the Fisker EMotion. The Fisker EMotion is expected to have a range of 400miles and a top speed of 161mph. The vehicle employs proprietary charging technology, the UltraCharger, that charges 100miles in 9 minutes. The vehicle is equipped with LIDAR autonomous hardware. Fisker will employ the same direct sales strategy as Tesla and service through “The Hybrid Shop,” an initiative with THS. THS is a specialty EV servicing company with 36 service centers in North America, targeting 400 globally by 2019. The company will release more information during the month of June and pre-ordering will open from June the 30th.
Longtime Nissan Chairman, Carlos Ghosn, this week commented that he does not see electric vehicle adoption equal to that of other nations soon. The Australian Governments lack of support for the sector has received widespread criticism from the auto sector recently. Mr. Ghosn was quoted by Australian publication, Drive, saying “The subsidies are important to jump-start the technology and help the technology reach a new level. I understand that your government is going to issue a new policy. I will be waiting [to see] what are the components of this policy.” Earlier this year Nissan Australia CEO Richard Emery lashed out at the Australian government over a lack of support for the EV sector, describing his dealings with the industry as ‘amateur hour.’
Other automakers have shared the same sentiment, this week BMW country chief, Mark Werner, according to Car Advice said at the launch of the plug-in hybrid 530e iPerformance that the government has “stuck their collective heads in the sand.” “Our government is so far behind in their view of climate change,” he said. “Australia has shocking emissions levels. Worse than what we would call non-industrialised or third-world countries.”
EV sales in Australia totaled less than a 1,000 vehicles in 2016, while the smaller neighbor, New Zealand sold close to 1,500 in the same period.
Mahindra Racing took two podium positions in the 7th race of the third season of the Formula E series held in Berlin on Saturday the 10th of June. The Mahindra team stands a very good chance to end 2nd in the series with five races remaining as it lies only 17 points behind the second place Audi team. Multi-season winner, Renault had an unfortunate race, with its ace Sebastian Buemi being disqualified due to a tire pressure infringement. Mahindra has been very consistent over the season with some podium finishes but has never been able to clinch the top position. The 8th race will be held today and bodes to be an exciting spectacle.
The relatively young GAC Motors is one of China’s best-respected vehicle brands. The company has a defined EV strategy and will add three models to its EV fleet in 2017.
Guangzhou Automobile Group Co, Ltd. founded in 2005 has various Joint Ventures with large international auto manufacturers such as Toyota, Hino, and Honda. Wanxiang Group, a large auto-parts manufacturer, and owner of Karma Automotive, previously known as Fisker Automotive, is one of the founding shareholders.
GAC MOTOR established its New Energy division at the end of 2015. The division focused on developing its R&D and production to penetrate the growing Chinese market for EV’s. The New Energy strategy is supported by GAC Group’s “1513” new-energy development strategy which makes the development of an R & D platform, R & D of core technologies a key development direction for its products.
GAC has international ambitions and aims to establish sales and service networks in 14 countries, including North America, Africa, South and Eastern Europe and South East Asia. GAC has reaped the rewards of creating a world-class vehicle brand and sold more than 380,000 vehicles in 2016, compared to around 194,000 the previous year, and has achieved 80 percent compound annual growth rate from 2011 to 2016. The company expects to sell 500,000 cars in 2017 and plans to produce 1 million cars in 2020. The Group targets 200,000 new energy vehicles in 2020 and meeting fuel consumption targets of 5.0L/100Km over its model range. In 2016 GAC Trumpchi delivered a total of 3,378 units of its GA5 PHEV model, an increase of 167% on 2015.
To support its strategy, Guangzhou Automobile Group passed two resolutions impacting EV development at its Board of Directors meeting on June 5th, 2017.
GAC Motors are also pursuing other electric mobility solutions. In February 2016, Guangzhou Lixin Taxi Company owned by GAC Access launched more than 200 Levin twin-engine HEVs into Guangzhou taxi market. Also, GAC Group fully mobilizes the creativity of various business sectors and is actively devoted to new energy and energy conservation and environmental protection. GAC Motors and BYD established a JV in 2015 to co-operate in EV development. As a result, the company launched 400 pure electric buses produced by GAC BYD New Energy Bus Co., Ltd. into Guangzhou public transport system to provide services for citizens. The JV company is 51% owned by GAC and has a registered capital of 300m RMB.
Click through to the GAC Motors page on wattEV2Buy to explore the past, present and future EV models by the Chinese automaker.
Stay tuned to wattEV2buy and follow the rest of our weekly series on Chinese EV brands.
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An article by OilPrice.com based on BP’s long-term energy outlook claims the electric vehicle car threat to the oil industry is overstated and a red herring for investors and other observers. The article cast doubt on if the achievability of a target of a 100 million electric vehicles by 2030, especially in a Trump era. Nonetheless, BP’s forecast still sees only a marginal effect of only 1.2 million barrels per day on oil demand if the target of around 7% EV’s by 2030 is reached. The article concludes that a bigger unknown to oil demand gains in fuel efficiencies, largely driven by more stringent emission targets.
Some policy gains were made this week in support for electric vehicles in the ongoing tussle targeting regulations for and against the technology. New York will from the 1st of April 2017 provide a $2,000 incentive to buyers of electric vehicles. In Wyoming, despite efforts by the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers backed by Ford and GM to block Tesla from opening its direct sales business, the State Legislature this week approved a bill allowing Tesla to open its showrooms and sell vehicle’s without the use a middle man.
Honda is setting itself up for failure with this week’s announcement that the much anticipated mid-sized 2018 Honda Clarity EV will only have an 80-mile range. Despite being a mid-size sedan, with the obvious space benefit it brings, the car will not even compete with smaller compact sedans and hatchbacks, such as the 2017 BMW i3 (114 miles), Nissan Leaf (107 miles) and the VW e-Golf (125 miles). The Honda Clarity EV’s direct competitors in the $30,000 to $35,000 price range, the Hyundai Ionic (124miles) and Tesla Model 3 (200 miles), will put it to shame.
February Electric Vehicle sales data released for the USA this week reveals some interesting talking points. Overall, February sales gained a further 13.4% in January 2017 and over 55% on year on year basis. Contributors to the increase came from a nearly doubling in sales of the Tesla Model S and continued demand for the new Toyota Prius Plus. Unfortunately, the Prius in our books hardly counts as an electric vehicle due to its underwhelming continued reliance on its combustion engine. Disappointingly, sales for the Chevrolet Bolt declined over 18% from January, bringing total sales for the four months to 3,272 units, far short if one takes that at a claimed 30,000 units per annum the Bolt should have sold 10,000 units during the four months. In the car maker standings, GM retained its lead with 2,776 units over Tesla’s 2,550 units with Ford taking third place with 1,704 units.
The respected Economist Magazine this week commented on forecast adjustments by various investment houses for the penetration of electric vehicles. Up till last year, the consensus was that only 4% of new vehicles would be electric by 2025. BNP Paribas now forecast 11% penetration by 2025, while Morgan Stanley see’s a 7% penetration. In 2016 international EV sales increased with nearly 750,000 units (42%) in spite of a low fuel price environment. One factor driving the change of heart are aggressive regulations to support environmental targets. In Norway electric vehicles now makes up 37% of new vehicle fleet amid government support while in China the Government aims to have EV’s make up 8% of new vehicles by 2018. Technology has also moved much faster than anticipated and battery cost, a long time stumbling block is coming down faster than anticipated, with some mega factories coming online within the next two years. Our hearts go out to the automakers that failed to notice the trend, RIP Fiat, Toyota, Honda, Hyundai, and the list goes on, not to mention Big Oil.
This week Tesla CEO Elon Musk commented on the disruption of self-driving cars to the sector during the World Government Summit in Dubai. Mr. Musk was in Dubai for the launch of Tesla in the Emirates. His comments indicated that Tesla would have its first Level 4 Autonomous system available by the end of 2017. The disruption is significant to the auto sector since once a self-driving car is available, it will devalue new cars without the technology. According to Mr. Musk, the disruption will be slow initially but that in ten years from now all new cars will have the capability to be autonomous. It’s significant that Mr. Musk made the comments at a Government Summit as regulations, not technology seems to be the biggest hurdle at the moment. Will technology force the pace of Governments? We sincerely hope so.
The Wall Street Journal reported on the Chinese Electric Vehicle market hitting a road block, with new electric vehicles sales down over 60% for January. China up till now has been the mainstay of the sector with sales increases in 2015 of 300% and 50% on top of that in 2016. The recent clampdown on corruption in the sector which led to a range of new regulations being forced on the Chinese market since December 30, 2016, is seen to be the reason for the sharp slowdown. The Wall Street Journal reported on fines of $150 million imposed on some companies in September 2016. The fines were as a result of subsidy fraud. The Chinese Government also indicated earlier the year that they want to increase barriers to entry and limit the market to around ten manufacturers, down from over 200 currently, in a bid to improve quality and safety of the end product.
The 3rd event in the current series of the Formula-E electric vehicle street racing calendar held Buenos Aires Argentina ended yet again with a victorious Renault.eDams team. The e.Dams driver, Swiss-born Sebastian Buemi clinched his 3rd win of the series. The Brasilian Lucas Di Grassi’s 2nd position kept Audi’s ABT Schaeffler standings in the overall second position. The Chinese teams of Next EV and Techeeta were the only teams climbing the rankings, now lying 4th and 5th respectively. Newcomer Panasonic Jaguar has yet to score a single point in the 3rd season, with its drivers Evans and Carrol ending 18th and 19th.
California-based Lucid Motors this week released video footage of its winter testing of the Lucid Air, unveiled in December 2016. Lucid Motors, previously known as Atieva, is one of the more exciting electric vehicle brands to enter the sector in recent years and sports its own drive train and battery technologies. The automaker tested its prototype vehicle’s dynamics and breaking system in the sub-zero temperatures of Minnesota. The Lucid Air’s drive train handled the low friction surfaces consisting of packed snow and polished ice extremely well as evident from the video below.
The world’s fourth richest man, Carlos Slim of Mexico, announced this week 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. Giant Motor’s and Chinese JAC Motors also entered into an alliance to manufacture vehicles in Mexico’s Hidalgo province.
The Chicago Auto Show kicked off this week, sporting the highest number of electric vehicle technologies on display in the Show’s history. Vehicles on display include BMW’s i8, the Mini Cooper Countryman PHEV, and Ford’s Fusion Energi PHEV. It’s wattEV2Buy’s observation though that with the lack of inspiring and game-changing technologies the Chicago Show underscore that Big Auto is still not getting boots and all behind the technology. Reading between the lines, we see big auto focusing more on autonomous vehicles than electric drive trains as it’s future strategy.
Volkswagen USA announced the creation of a unit to channel $2 billion into zero emission vehicle awareness programs and charging infrastructure over the next decade. The commitment forms part of the Group’s settlement in the diesel emission cheating case, but ultimately the move is also in support of the company’s bold strategy shift to focus on electric vehicle technology. The unit named Electrify America, based in Virginia and will oversee the installation of 500 charging stations and a pilot Green City program.