Top 5 Electric Vehicle News Stories of Week 14 2018

Top 5 Electric Vehicle News Stories of Week 14 2018

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TOP EV NEWS #1 – KNIGHT RIDER SWAPS KITT FOR A TESLA MODEL S

The leader of the clone wars, Shanghai-based Youxia, got a new lease on life this week as the company secured $800 million (¥5 Billion) to develop its clone of the Tesla Model S, the Youxia Ranger X.

Youxia which represent Robin Hood-like nights in Chinese culture evidently aims to take from the rich and give the poor figuratively speaking. The EV start-up aims to launch its Tesla Model S lookalike EV at less than half the price of the original. Youxia was founded in 2014 by IT Entrepreneur Huang Xiuyuan, a self-confessed fan of the 80s show Knight Rider, featuring Michael Knight and his autonomous Pontiac Trans Am named KITT. It is no secret that a Tesla Model S was stripped down by Youxia’s 50 engineers when it developed the Youxia Ranger X. Youxia claimed at the time that it would bring the Ranger X to market in 2017 but went silent late in 2016.

Twelve institutions including the SINOEP (China Environmental Protection Industry Corporation), Qianhai Mergers and Acquisition Funds and China Fortune Ocean took part in the Series B placement. Youxia will unveil the new production version of the Ranger X later this year.  The Youxia Operating System trademarked as KITT OS will provide either Level 2 or 3 self-driving capabilities. The Youxia facility is said to include a test track for wireless charging and a battery recycling plant.

The pictures below shows a Tesla Model S on the left and a Youxia Ranger X as first introduced in 2016, you decide if Control C was used in the design process.

Youxia-ranger-X-and tesla Model S Week-14-Top-5-ev-news-wattev2buy

TOP EV NEWS #2 – GM TO SELL TWO MORE EV MODELS IN CHINA

GMs Buick brand announced that it would expand the electrification of its models in China by launching a plug-in hybrid and pure electric Buick Velite 6. The BUICK 6 Velite will be presented on the 17th of April and join the plug-in hybrid Buick Velite 5 on the showroom floors. The Buick Velite 6 is based on the Buick Velite Concept introduced in November 2016 at the Guangzhou Auto Show, pictured on the left below. The Velite 5 will also get a Range Extended model. The Velite 5 is based on the Chevrolet Volt platform and pricing starts at ¥265,000. According to GM press release the Velite 6 will adopt an all-new battery electric vehicle propulsion system which in my language reads Chevrolet Bolt.

Buick-velite-5-and-6 Week-14-Top-5-ev-news-wattev2buy

TOP EV NEWS #3 – TESLA, THE GOOD AND BAD

Tesla remains in the news this week following last weeks fatal autopilot crash which saw its share price traded as low as $245. A new video emerged this week implicating that the Tesla Model X mistook the right-hand marker of the off-ramp as the left-hand lane marker, crashing into the concrete barrier separating the off-ramp from the highway. Trading conditions for Tesla further worsened as the Chinese Government added electric vehicles to the list of tariffs to be increased in the escalating trade war started by Trump, which saw the Nasdaq opening sharply lower at the start of the week. The stock-market, however, shrugged off the bad news and the stock recovered to trade as high as $305 closing at $299. The market took its cue from Model 3 registrations which it now expects to reach 5,000 units per week by the July 2018. Tesla registered nearly 8,000 Model 3 VINs this week, 4,793 on Thursday the 5th of April and 2,915 on the 6th. Elon Musk also answered a tweet saying that the hi-performance dual-motor Model 3 will be launched once production ramps up to 5,000 models which he sees in July 2018. Tesla has already registered 16 Model 3s with dual-motors sofar.

TOP EV NEWS #4 – PSA CREATES DEDICATED EV UNIT

The French auto manufacturer, PSA Group, moved its EV plans into second gear this week as it created a dedicated business unit dedicated to its EV strategy. The new unit will be managed by Alexandre Guignard who will be responsible for the global roll-out of the PSAs plans to electrify its entire range by 2025 from 2019. The Low Emission Vehicles Business Unit as it is called will also be responsible for PSA meeting its European CO2 emissions levels from 2020.

TOP EV NEWS #5 – CHINESE EV START-UPS COMING TO LIFE

I mentioned the Chinese EV start-up, Youxia, coming out of its slumber in the opening article but the more active Chinese EV start-ups were quite busy this week giving us a sense of successful the new breed of automakers might be.

Byton, the EV brand of Tencent (Future Mobility‘s parent), which is also one of the largest shareholders in Tesla this week opened a Research and Development lab, named Future Lab, in Los Angeles. Future Lab is responsible for the development of user experience systems included in its Smart Intuitive Vehicle (SIV) program.

Weima, also partly owned by Tencent, announced that the first production models of the Weima EX5 SUV rolled off its production line. The order book for the EX5 is expected to open during the Beijing Auto Show at the end of April 2018.

NIO Capital, another Tencent investment, GLP and Chinese IoT company, G7, announced a joint venture this week to start collaborating on the development of autonomous trucks. The JV will extend to electric drivetrain development, logistics big data and innovative Vehicle-as-a-Service models. GLP will provide an open logistics ecosystem while G7 its real-time data and fleet management capabilities and NIO its automotive experience.

Staying with NIO, China Automotive News reported that although the company expects to sell 30,000 models of NIO ES8 SUV this year, it also expects a loss of ¥5 billion ($800 million) in 2018. Funding for the operating loss is expected to come from an IPO in the USA, valuing the company at $2 billion. NIO recently opened its first of ten User Center named Nio House (pictured below) in Beijing. NIO also opened its service center in Chinese capital right next door to that of Tesla.

Nio House Week-14-Top-5-ev-news-wattev2buy

Singulato raised $2.4 billion to invest in a new EV hub in Suzhou, Jiangsu, China over the next five years. Singulato will employ 3,000 engineers and researchers in the city and foster the creation of smaller companies in the hub. Singulato and the Suzhou City Government is entering into a partnership to also establish a ¥10 billion fund to nurture start-ups in the EV sector. The company is to launch its first model, the IS6 SUV in April.

TOP EV NEWS – AUTONOMOUS NEWS FROM PAST WEEK

Waymo CEO John Krafcik in an interview with Bloomberg said that the company is near completing a deal with Honda to develop autonomous delivery vehicles. The partnership will follow on that of Jaguar announced last week. Waymo has already started testing electric trucks in Atlanta last month.

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China has only 14 legal EV brands, most as ugly as…

China has only 14 legal EV brands, most as ugly as…

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wattev2buy china electric car

In June 2016 the Chinese authorities embarked on a program to regulate the industry that saw over 200 companies planning to produce over 50 million cars a year. Initially, the Chinese Government announced that it would only provide ten manufacturers with permits to produce electric vehicles in a bid to ensure quality and reliability to the consumer. A year later, at the end of May 2017, 14 new energy vehicle manufacturers were awarded production certificates to develop electric vehicles, with no indication what the new limit on participants is. China leads the world in terms of the size of the electric vehicle market; one would expect that it would lead to the creation of great looking automobiles, the opposite has been the norm.

China’s electric car sector is known for its ugly models, most are either bad clones of other brands, such as the Tesla Model S clone the Youxia Ranger X, or old body types of Japanese or European models with a battery thrown in, such as the 2012 Suzuki SX4 rebadged as the 2017 SD EV Yinse. Currently, most Chinese vehicle manufacturers are bringing mid-to-low end models to production, competing with Western models such as the Tesla Model 3Chevrolet Bolt, Renault Zoe and the Nissan Leaf. A couple of Chinese manufacturers are following the Tesla model of starting with a luxury sedan or sports car and will, therefore, compete with the likes of the Rimac Concept One, Tesla Modle S or Porsche Mission-E.

Many Chinese automakers have addressed design challenges by opening design centers in Europe, mostly in Italy, world-renowned for design, especially automotive design. Some Chinese automakers own established Western brands such as Geely owning Volvo, SAIC Roewe buying MG, NEVS buying SAAB and Wanxiang buying Karma Automotive. One might, therefore, be forgiven to expect that world-class design principles would find its way into Chinese electric vehicle production. Unfortunately, the fusion between Western and Chinese design has yet to deliver eye-catching electric vehicles.

Authorized EV brands in China

With the greater oversight, one would have hoped to be wowed with only the best electric vehicles rising to the top and receiving the coveted production permits. Let’s look at the current Chinese automakers that have been granted production certificates and see what the Chinese consumer and the rest of the world can expect.

BAIC BJEV

The Chinese Government owned BAIC is one of the top-selling EV brands in China and is now into its second generation EV design with the BAIC E200, BAIC EC180, and BAIC EU260. BAIC has also created a stand-alone company for electric vehicles, BJEV and is expected to bring a new brand to light, called Arcfox. Unfortunately, BAIC’s design still looks very much like copies of other brands, take for instance the BAIC EU260 which looks very much like an older Mercedes C-Series.

BAIC-EU260-ev

Changjiang EV

Changjiang EV produces the eCool EV, also know as the FDG Yangtze EV. The company classifies the eCool as a mini-SIV, but in all honesty, it looks more like a hatchback. The eCool comes with 10-inch multi-touch HD screen providing an onboard interconnected experience and a mobile terminal. The vehicle achieved a 4-star C-NCAP measured at 50km/h impact. The hatchback comes in various funky colors, and customers can personalize their dash and seat covers, not that is does anything for the general look of the EV.

changjiang-Yangtze-EV

Qiantu Motor

CH-Auto Technology founded in 2010, the Chinese electric vehicle manufacturer branded as Qiantu Qiche (前途汽车), meaning Future Auto in 2015. Qiantu aims to compete head-on with Tesla and unveiled the Qiantu K50 Event! as the first model in its arsenal to do so ( for all the language buffs, the ! is not a typo but part of the name). The K50 Event! is one of the more appealing Chinese EVs.

qiantu-k50-event

Chery New Energy

Chery Auto was honored with “Best Globalization Strategy for the year 2015” among Chinese Vehicle manufacturers. Chery is a leader in the EV sector with one of the first production cars as far back as 2008.The Chery QQ, first produced in 2015, remains one of the top 10 models in China. The QQ might be popular, but it is certainly not for its looks.

chery-eq1-ev 2018

Jiangsu Minan

The company was founded in 2011 and opened the Jiangsu MIN’AN Automotive Research Institute in October 2015 where it develops its new energy vehicles. Min’an Auto is set to unveil its first EV in 2018. Min’an has the intent to develop three models in 2018, an SUV, rendered below, a sports car and a neighborhood electric (NEV) delivery van. Min’an suffers from the same classification issues as Changjiang EV, trying to sell a hatchback as an SUV.

minan-sportscar-ev

Wanxiang Group (Karma Automotive)

Owned by Chinese auto parts company Wanxiang Group, who bought the remnants of Fisker Automotive in 2013. The company aims to manufacturer 900 Karma Revero’s in 2017. Waxiang Group was one of the first automakers to receive a production certificate allowing it to produce electric vehicles in 2016. The Karma Revero teaser below was released late 2016 and does not look a lot different than the Fisker Karma of 2012.

karma-revero

 

JMC EV

JMC created a new company to house its electric vehicle unit under in early 2015. The plant situated in Nanchang City has a planned production capacity of 70,000 units per year by 2020. JMC EV is planning to follow up on its first electric vehicle the E100 EV with four new models, the E200, E160, S330 SUV PHEV and E170. Th JMC E100 is one of the top 20 sellers in China. Both the E100 and E200 looks quite similar and follows the same boring lines as most of the small electric vehicles such as the Chery QQ and BAIC EC180.

JMC-S330-PHEV

Chongqing Jinkang

The Sokon owned company received its production certificate early 2017 which allows the company to produce 50,000 EVs annually. The company has not unveiled any vehicles but have secured Tesla Co-founder, Martin Eberhard, as a consultant and acquired US-based AC Propulsion at the end of 2016. Sokon developed small commercial vehicles in partnership with Dongfeng.

sokon-ec35-ldv-bev

NEVS

National Electric Vehicles Sweden (NEVS), a Chinese-owned company, acquired the SAAB brand from bankruptcy in 2012. The company received a production permit for 200,000 units annually. The company has already signed an agreement to supply 20,000 SAAB 9-3 to Chinese Aerospace entity, Volinco. Disappointingly it seems that consumers will have to be content with getting another relic from the past as an option when it comes to buying a new EV in China.

nevs 9-3 ev concept

Yudo Auto

Yudo Auto electric vehicles strategy is to produce affordable pure electric SUVs and aims to be a first-class brand in 5 years and international presence in 10 years. Yudo chose the words “creating for change” as its tagline and opened a Design Center in Milan, Italy. The company unveiled two small SUVs at the Shanghai Auto Show in April 2017 as part of its Gemini strategy. The Yudo Pi1 base model looks like a bad knockoff of the VW Tiguan, and the flagship Yudo Pi3 reminds of a Landrover Freelander of the 90’s. Let’s hope there is more “creating for change” down the line.

yudo-pi-1-ev

Know Beans / Zhi Dou

Know Beans (Zhi Dou), a Geely company, and yes that’s the brand’s name, develops the popular ZD D2 mini-car which is also sold under the Zotye label as the Zotye E20. The D2, produced since 205, is also a top 20 electric vehicle in China. You just know, when you look at the D2, that it hails from China. I don’t know what is worse, the brand name or the vehicle, enough said.

zhidou d3 ev

SD EV

Henan Suda EV, also know as SD EV received permission to develop a 100,000 EV plant. SD EV offers one of this ‘Back to the Future’ opportunities, where you can buy a vehicle from 2012 as a brand new model in 2017. SD EV has two EV models ready for production. The vehicles are based on Suzuki SX4 sedan and hatch. The word Suda means to ‘Speed Up’ in Chinese while the Henan refers to the company’s home province.

suda-hatch-ev

Hozon Auto

Hozon received an electric vehicle production certificate allowing it to produce 50,000 units per annum. Hozon unveiled its first concept vehicle, a compact crossover named @, at the 3rd World Internet Conference in November 2016. The Hozon logo looks surprisingly similar than that of Mercedes, and the rendering of the marketing material looks like that of an old generation Buick Lacrosse, while the @ like a Tesla Model X.

hozon-auto-at-ev

GreenWheel

GreenWheel received approval to develop a 50,000 unit plant. The company is better known for developing Neighborhood Electric Vehicles (NEV). Now that GreenWheel has qualified for EV production it aims to start production of the small crossover, named the V5, which is an electric version of the Weichai Enranger G3.

greenwheel-v5

JAC

JAC and VW entered into a JV to produce 100,000 EVs per annum in May 2017 and became the 15th and last company to receive a permit in this round of permitting.

jac-iev-A50-EV

 

For too long the stereotype Chinese manufacturer has been known for copying rather than innovating. It is therefore disappointing to see that most of the authorized EV producers are still developing cars based on old combustion vehicles. The failure of the permitting process to identify and authorize truly innovative companies to ensure a sustainable and dominant Chinese EV sector will be negative for the whole EV sector, we need companies such as Tesla, testing the boundaries set by traditional auto manufacturers.

At the end of the day, beauty is in the eye of the beholder so I would love to hear your comments on the state of China’s electric vehicle design in the comment section below.

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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