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TOP EV NEWS #1 – BYTON ELEGANTLY BLENDS CAR AND AI

The Chinese A-EV (Autonomous EV) start-up Byton formed by tech giant and Tesla shareholder, Tencent, this week held a company event officially opening its operations in Nanjing. Nanjing will house Byton’s HQ, hi-tech manufacturing, and R&D, and Silicon Value will be home to the customer experience and advanced R&D technologies for self-driving systems while Munich the base of the design team and product R&D.

Byton introduced its second offering EV, the K-Byte Concept sedan during the launch. The first mass-produced EV, a production version of the Byton M-Byte SUV introduced at the 2018 CES in Las Vegas will roll off the assembly line of the 300,000 unit capacity plant in Q4 2019. The M-Byte SUV starting price is set to be RMB300,000. The M-Byte will be followed by a production version of the K-Byte sedan in 2021 and an MPV in 2022. On the eve of the launch, Byton announced the completion of a $500 million Series B funding round. Chinese state-owned auto manufacturer FAW was one of the earlier participants in Series B, investing $260 million. The Series B funding round was fully subscribed with a sizable investment by one of the world’s largest battery manufacturers, CATL.

The Byton K-Byte Concept sedan design elegantly incorporates the systems and sensors required for autonomous driving. Unfortunately, the inclusion of a steering wheel and fixed forward-looking seats still reminds us that the switch away from traditional mobility is not as easy as one would imagine.

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In related news, CATL went public this week with $850 million IPO on Monday on the Shenzhen Exchange. CATL floated 10% of the company at a price of 25.14 yuan ($3.92) per share. CATL’s share price rose 44% at the debut at which point trade was halted as the price reached the maximum allowable threshold for the first day of trade.

TOP EV NEWS #2 – FUEL CELL STRATEGY RETHINK

Now that the shift towards electric mobility is gathering pace automakers are forced to rethink their fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV) strategy. Reuters reported this week that the Canadian JV between Daimler and Ford for the development of automotive fuel cell technology, Automotive Fuel Cell Cooperation Corp, based in Burnaby, British Columbia would be terminated this summer. Both companies will take their FCEV research in-house. Only a few automakers have extensive fuel cell strategies, Toyota being the most prominent, doubling down on efforts to mass produce FCEVs. Honda and GM are still collaborating on the development of FCEV technologies.

In related news, VW/Audi and Canadian company Ballard Power this week extended their long-term HyMotion contract to develop a small series fuel cell Audi by 2022. The value of the contract for the NASDAQ and Toronto SE listed Ballard is estimated to be up to $100 million. The initial relationship commenced with the signing of a four-year contract in March 2013 which was extended for another two years to March 2019. Audi took over control of the program in 2016. Fruits of the program in the form of a Golf SportWagen HyMotion, Passat HyMotion, and Audi A7 Sportback h-tron Quattro was presented at the LA and Detroit Auto Shows during the run of the program.

TOP EV NEWS #3 – RENAULT INVEST IN EV STRATEGY

The Nissan Renault Mitsubishi Alliance EV strategy named Drive The Future gained more traction this week with the announcement that Groupe Renault will invest €1 billion ($1.1 billion) towards the strategy, making France a center if excellence for Renaults EVs within the alliance.

Renault identified four production sites within France to focus on the development fo EVs, being:

  • Douai – the base for the development of  a new Alliance electric platform;
  • Flins – doubling of the existing ZOE capacity;
  • Cleon – tripling electric motor production capacity and the introduction of the new generation electric motor by 2021;
  • Maubeuge – investments for the next generation of Kangoo commercial vehicles, including Kangoo Z.E.

The EV related targets for the Drive The Future (2017-2022) strategy is to have 8 electric models and 12 electrified models by 2022.

To date, Renault has been the best performing EV brand in Europe posting a 23.8% market share, growing 38% in 2017 due to 44% rise in Zoe sales.

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TOP EV NEWS #4 – FOCUS ON CHINA EV POLICY

Chinese EV sales are powering ahead, EV sales in May 2018 were the second-best performing month of all time and increasing year on year sales by almost 150%. China remains the catalyst for global EV Sales accounting for around 60% of EV sales in the top 10 markets in May. The Top selling EV brands were BAIC, BYD, and SAIC while the top new model was the WEY P8 and the top new Brand Han Teng with its X87 PHEV and X5 EV SUV’s. If you are interested in my full report on Chinese EV sales for May 2018 please click here.

The Chinese Government implemented a new EV subsidy policy on the 12th of June, scrapping incentives for pure electric cars with a range below 150km (94miles). The rules of the new policy are designed to foster improvements in EV technology, favoring EVs with high energy density and efficiency. According to the new EV incentive policy, EVs will qualify for subsidies based on five range trances:

  1. Between 150km and 200km will be reduced from RMB 36,000 to RMB 15,000;
  2. Between 200km and 250km will be reduced from RMB 36,000 to RMB 24,000;
  3. Between 250km and 300km will be granted RMB 34,000;
  4. Between 300km and 400km will be subsidized RMB 45,000;
  5. Above 400km will gain RMB 50,000.

Criteria for battery energy density were divided into four levels.

Subsidies based on the energy density of batteries are as follows:

  1. 105Wh/kg to 120Wh/kg = 0.6 times subsidies;
  2. 120Wh/kg to 140Wh/kg = 1 time subsidies;
  3. 140 Wh/kg to 160 Wh/kg, 1.1 times subsidies;
  4. and more than160Wh/kg 1.2 times subsidies.

Subsidies for plug-in hybrid passenger vehicle will be reduced by RMB 2,000 to RMB 22,000.

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China’s dominance in the EV sector is helping its automakers to gain traction in international markets. This week Geely subsidiary Zhi Dou announced that the South Korean Government ordered 1,000 Zhi Du D2 mini EVs. Zhi Dou is the third official supplier to the South Korean Government after local producer KIA and the GM. Unfortunately, the trade war between the USA and China might put a damper on the Chinese automakers with plans to establish in the USA. Deputy GM of GAC, Li Shao, said to Automotive News China that any increase in tariffs by the US would have an impact on its plans to start selling cars there. GAC has started recruiting dealers to commence operations in 2019.

TOP EV NEWS #5 – KIA SOUL EV GETS BATTERY UPGRADE

On the back of declining sales for its combustion version, KIA announced that it would only sell the electric version of the KIA Soul in Europe. Of the 2,245 KIA Soul’s sold in Germany so far this year 1,900 were EV models. KIA will release the next generation KIA this year which will be based on the Hyundai Kona and KIA Niro EVs available in a 39.3 kWh medium range and 64kWh long-range version, improving the range of the KIA Soul by threefold.

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TOP EV NEWS – AUTONOMOUS NEWS FROM PAST WEEK

Elon Musk tweeted that the new Autopilot upgrade, Version 9(V9) will unlock the full self-driving capabilities of the autonomous driving hardware that has been part of all Tesla Model’s S and X since November 2016. Version 9(V9) will be rolled out in August 2018. “To date, Autopilot resources have rightly focused entirely on safety. With V9, we will begin to enable full self-driving features,” Musk replied in a Twitter thread.

GM China announced at the China CES that the Cadillac CT6 PHEV would be its first car to be equipped with the Super Cruise advanced driving system in the country. GM will include the system in other models from 2020. The system applies driver attention monitoring and alerting systems, cameras, lidar map data and sensors to allow for auto-pilot capabilities on highways.

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