Be warned Big Auto, the China EV strategy is to dominate!

Be warned Big Auto, the China EV strategy is to dominate!

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The Chinese Government released its long-term development plan for the automotive sector on the 25th of April 2017, setting out the China EV strategy. The plan, presented by the Ministries of Science and Technology and Ministry of Industry and Information Technology in conjunction with National Development and Reform Commission, sets out how the country will ramp up the local EV sector and dominate the world market.

If successful the Chinese auto sector can leapfrog the dominance of the big auto companies, such as Toyota, VWBMW, Daimler, Ford, and GM. Big Auto has missed the boat on electric vehicles and therefore continue to downplay the technology as only a niche sector. Management boards of big auto companies are flip-flopping strategy as they try and come to grips with how to enter the market and to what extent they should invest in research in technology. BMW last week announced that EVs constituted 3% of its total sales for the first quarter of 2017 after a jump in EV sales of 50% (Top 5 EV News Week 18). With the release of the data, the company set out how it will introduce more models. The news from BMW is in stark contrast from news only six months earlier when the Board grappled with if it should pursue EVs at all (Top 5 EV News Week 49 USA-Top-10-BEV-All-time wattev2buy2016). In the USA we have recently seen how newcomer Tesla is valued above Ford and GM by investors. The response by Big Auto and other detractors of EVs was that this is a temporary phenomenon, arguing that Tesla hardly produces one tenth of the vehicles any of the top brands does. If one look at total sales of Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs), it seems investors on the other hand value companies on their future ability to produce electric vehicles. If the same apply for Chinese brands, we can very quickly expect a Chinese brand to ascend the list of top auto brands.

 

According to the plan by the Chinese Government, it set a short-term target of EV sales of 2 million units locally by 2020 and at the same time elevate Chinese auto brands to be seen amongst the top ten electric vehicle brands globally. The medium term target is that EVs contribute 20% of the total annual fleet by 2025, which is a huge amount of cars. Measuring the movement in sales by brand in the table below we can already see the top Chinese EV brands, BAIC, SAIC, Geely Zhidou and JMC moving higher and two brands, BAIC and BYD in the top ten list for the first quarter 2017. Other evidence of Chinese companies investing heavily in the sector includes Chinese IT company, Tencent acquiring a significant stake in Tesla, sparking a rally in the stock.

china ev strategy

Measures by the Chinese Government to achieve the targets above include:

  • Financial and tax support for New Energy Vehicle (NEV) companies;
  • Making it easier for foreign companies to enter the Chinese market by improving foreign investment regulations and liberalizing the existing cap on foreign ownership stakes in joint venture enterprises;
  • Promoting R&D through incentives;
  • Subsidies to consumers through tax benefits;
  • The Chinese Government is further considering incentives for parts and components manufacturers, smart and connected cars and other fields that will help Chinese companies lead the future auto sector;
  • The Export-Import Bank of China will assist Chinese NEV companies to go global.

China already has experience of setting itself to dominate a sector and achieving set goals. Less than a decade ago the Chinese Government plotted to dominate the PV panel market and in the process brought down the price of energy production from renewables, killing some western PV manufacturers in coal plants in the process. Already we are seeing a deluge of battery cell plants being planned by the end of the decade in China. We can, therefore, expect the same domino effect as in the energy markets, taking out auto manufacturers that were slow to embrace electric vehicles.

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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Aston Martin EV strategy hits a roadblock

Aston Martin EV strategy hits a roadblock

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It was just a matter of time for the newly formed partnership, barely five months old, between LeEco and Aston Martin hit the rocks, creating a roadblock for the Aston Martin EV strategy. Although none of the two companies officially announced the breakup of the Joint Venture to develop electric vehicle technology, China Money Network recently reported the suspension of the partnership by the British luxury carmaker.

wattev2buy aston martin rapid 2The terms of the JV was for LeEco to help with the development of low emission vehicle technologies and deliver a concept car within two years. The partnership was funded by China Equity and the Chinese President oversaw the signing of the agreement. It was expected that the concept car will produce more than 1,000hp. The partnership also extended to the Rapid E 2018 model which is expected late 2017 and would have incorporated the latest LeTv Internet of the Vehicle (IOV) system. It is uncertain how the breakdown in the partnership will impact on the release of the performance saloon.

Recently we reported that LeEco, the Chinese equivalent of Netflix and parent company of two EV start-ups, Faraday Future in the USA and LeSee in China, was forced to sell its Silicon Valley property, earmarked for its US headquarters. The sale, reported by Reuters, to Chinese property developer, Genzon Group, will provide the company with $260 million much-needed cash.

Both EV start-ups are known for making bold statements and big ticket announcements just to be followed by press reports of cash flow and funding problems. The announcement comes at a time when Faraday Future is battling to break ground on its plant in Northern Los Angeles. The company could not even pay the $21 million deposit to Aecon despite being offered $300 million by the local authorities for building the assembly plant there.

The 13-year-old LeEco is financially pressed on all fronts and founder, Jia Yeutling, was quoted by insiders referring to the cash flow problem as a “big company disease.” Rumors have also been flying that it was exciting its India operations and shares in its flagship unit, Leshi Internet Information and Technology Corp Beijing lost 25% of its value in five months. LeEco, which products include consumer electronics and cellphones, such as the LePro phone were able to raise $2.2 billion from Sunac China Holdings, a property developer. The funds are however not earmarked for LeEco‘s electric car division. Faraday Future is said to hold the patents to the technology, but recent reports state that the technology is in fact held by a separate company in the Cayman Islands, creating insecurity for investors and borrowers.

One might assume that an icon such as Aston Martin also took the reputational risk in consideration when entering into a partnership with an unproven start-up, but it seems Chinese cash was the deciding factor. The partnership was concluded at a time when a number of partnerships and equity transactions between British car makers and Chinese companies were entered into. Other transactions included investments by Geely in the London Taxi Company’s EV plant at Ansy, and Shanghai-listed Far East Smarter Energy Group investing in UK-based Detroit Electric for the manufacturing of the SP:01 EV. The transactions strengthen both the UK and Chinese positions in the electric vehicle market and created over 1,400 UK jobs.

We look forward to the official announcement by Aston Martin on the state of the partnership and how it will impact the release of the long-awaited RapidE. Aston Martin as recent as December stated that LeEco’s financial woes would not impact the JV or the release of the RapidE.

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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.”

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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.

Hyundai admits electric vehicles are an imperative

Hyundai admits electric vehicles are an imperative

Hyundai admits electric vehicles are an imperative. The South Korean automaker, Hyundai Motors (005380.KS) strategy has been focused on Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles until investor pressure forced the company to change in 2016. The company, which also owns KIA Motors (000270.KS), announced at the Los Angeles Auto Show in 2016 that it will change course to electric vehicles. Hyundai-Kia’s head of its green car efforts, situated in the city of Yongin, Mr. Lee Ki-Sang, shed light on the strategy change to electric vehicles during an interview ahead of the 2017 Seoul Motor Show.

In Los Angeles, the company said that it planned to have 14 new alternative vehicles in the US by 2020. The planned product mix include’s four plug-in hybrids, four electric and one hydrogen fuel cell model.  Today Mr. Lee shed some more light on the company’s plans, indicating that the first fully electric vehicle planned for next year would be a small SUV. According to Mr. Lee, the SUV would have a range of 185 miles (300km). Although the company is developing its own dedicated platform, it can’t say when it would be ready. The platform is modeled after that of Tesla, with the batteries in the floor, allowing for more battery capacity and cabin space. It is clear from the announcement that the company is aggressively trying to catch up on lost ground.

The Korean automaker has been criticized by investors and analysts for not acting on electric vehicles sooner, pressuring the company to change its strategy. Investment analyst expects the company to lose money initially on the shift to EV’s, but that should they not act they would be left behind. An analyst at Hi Investment Securities went further to say that they must target long range electric vehicles between 190 miles and 400 miles to be relevant at all.

Hyundai now expects the EV market to be around 10% of the global fleet by 2025, at which point Fuel Cell EV’s will take off. Hyundai’s luxury brand, Genesis also announced today that it would introduce a PHEV by 2019 and BEV by 2021.

The Hyundai-Kia alliance is also planning Chinese versions of its electric vehicles, and for the purpose, its is in the process of sourcing batteries from China, since Korean suppliers LG-Chem and Samsung are excluded from subsidies in China from 2016. The company is speaking to the likes of Contemporary Amperex Technology Ltd (CATL) and others for battery supply.