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