With an aptitude for expertise that may match Tesla CEO Elon Musk, an equally young (2 years younger, actually) and motivated Chinese technology billionaire plans to surpass Tesla Motors by venturing into the production of electric cars in China, via his tech company, Leshi. His goal is not simply more money or conquest, as expressed in a recent email. He is passionate about this cleantech solution and protecting the environment for human livability. (Sound familiar?)
Bloomberg News quoted Jia Yueting: “This is our dream and passion…. Look at China’s skies, all responsible corporate citizens want to do something about it. This is the truth.”
Jia Yueting is chair and founder of Leshi Internet Information & Technology. In the world’s largest market and a country with some of the most toxic skies, he seeks to promote sales of cars with zero emissions and, thus, lessen air pollution. In fact, his eco-friendly car will be, he believes, the most connected electric car — moving past even Tesla. Leshi will seek a license to manufacture the electric cars in China. Bloomberg News reports that Leshi explains with confidence that its experience is one of “managing disruptive change.” Tesla is still working toward eventual production of a more moderately priced electric car. Leshi plans to start moderately priced.
China’s government wants to incite fast action to blunt pollution and has been encouraging successful, innovative companies other than car makers to branch out. China’s government will offer them licenses for auto manufacturing. Leshi has taken the bait, but it is also keen on working to decrease air pollution and lessen the country’s dependency on imported oil. With more innovative companies going into electric cars production, China is primed to lead the global auto industry. China is also offering bigger and bigger electric car incentives on the consumer and infrastructure side, giving manufacturers confidence that demand will be there.
One has to wonder if China’s push for other tech companies to enter the electric vehicle space is somewhat inspired by Elon Musk. Musk, a top disruptor, did not start in cars either. His big breakthrough came in changing the ease and flow of money online by starting PayPal (as a co-founder). He has also been successful in the solar power industry as Chairman of SolarCity (but that success has come alongside his work at Tesla Motors). Tesla is already in China, and Musk earlier this year said that the country would eventually become Tesla’s largest market. Leshi is poised to climb to Tesla’s scale (and hoping to be even bigger), and it will benefit from home-court advantage in a country where this can really be important.
For a bit more background on the driving force behind Leshi, Bloomberg News continues: “Jia got his start in technology as a 22-year-old technical support officer maintaining the internal network of a county taxation bureau in China’s coal-producing Shanxi province.”
In less than a year, he was heading his own company. His first company was a consulting service for technology firms. He founded another, Sinotel Technologies, in 2002. He brought Leshi into being in 2004. “Leshi had its initial public offering in 2010 in Shenzhen. Leshi has a larger market value than Youku Tudou Inc., the New York-traded Internet TV company, and Jia’s 44 percent stake is worth about $2.3 billion at current market prices.”
As Jai suggested, the heads of other corporations are aiming to aid in the decrease of air pollution in China by producing eco-friendly electric vehicles. We’ve reported on a few of the big ones over the years, including Wanxiang Group and BYD.
China is playing catch-up as fast as it can. However, it is lagging behind targets due in part to problems with charging stations. The government recently addressed this with offers of billions of dollars in subsidies and pledges to build more charging stations for the public.
China is pushing towards environmental change in other areas as well, such as solar, where China’s target is to install and greatly increase solar power capacity year after year for the foreseeable future. China had a 14 GW solar capacity addition target for this year, which would blow any country’s previous annual record out of the water. It is reportedly going to miss the target, but installations will still be massive. The Ernst & Young Renewable Energy Country Attractiveness Index routinely has China at or near the very top.
As far as Musk goes, he has been clear and outspoken in the press that he welcomes other manufacturers in the electric vehicle market. In fact, a big part of Tesla’s mission is to inspire such entrances.
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