On the 24th of May 2020, Jose Pontes reported on the sales number of the Chinese EV market for April 2020. In April, the sales number continued to recover from the shutdown related to COVID-19 and the general decline that occurred in the market from changes to the new energy vehicle incentives. Still, April’s number of registrations is below that of April 2019 registration numbers. This April report showed that the registration numbers dropped by only 29% year on year, to about 61,000 units.
Jose again stated that, while the numbers have been lower than last year’s, they are expected to start returning to positive growth by the end of the year.
Jose expounded on the top 5 best selling new energy vehicles, including a new entrant in the top 5 list. The top 4 models were the BYD Qin Pro EV, with 5,096 registrations; the Tesla Model 3, with 4,312 registrations; the GAC Aion S, with 3,586 registrations; the NIO ES6, with 2,907 registrations; and finally, new entrant Li Xiang One EREV, with 2,622 registrations.
Jose went into the 2020 rankings of cars and brands and then introduced a section looking at Volkswagen and its position in China compared to Tesla. He ended with a look at one significant new entrant to the market in April, the Volkswagen Tayron GTE.
New Energy Vehicle News
On the 31st of May 2020, Steve Hanley reported on the news that NIO had completed 500,000 battery swaps at its 136 NIO battery swap stations in China.
Interestingly, the article mentions that these battery swaps are also used to inspect the powertrain of the electric vehicles and even upgrade the batteries, which is interesting and deserves its own article.
On the 29th of May 2020, Steve Hanley reported on three interconnected large stories from China. Steve reported that the Volkswagen Group is preparing to invest $2.2 billion USD into its existing partnerships with Chinese companies.
The Volkswagen Group will take a 50% stake in the state-owned parent group of Anhui Jianghuai Automobile Group (JAC Motors) and will increase its stake from 50% to 75% in SOL, its electric vehicle joint venture with JAC.
The second story was the Volkswagen Group acquiring 26.5% of Guoxuan High-tech Co., which is a key supplier of batteries to JAC and a number of other vehicle companies in China, but which is smaller than CATL or BYD.
The third story reported on was the news that Volkswagen Group and Ford will extend their cooperation in battery-electric passenger vehicles and commercial vans. The article goes into more details on those deals.
On the 28th of May 2020, Johnna Crider reported on the news that the joint venture between SAIC, GM, and Wuling unveiled an electric version of the Rong Guang (荣光EV).
— Grupo CLAN Medios (@grupoclanok) May 27, 2020
Johnna wrote up the key details on the two variants of the van, a commercial variant and passenger variant. The commercial variant has an all-electric range of 252 km (NEDC) and is priced from 83,800 RMB ($11,722). The passenger variant has an all-electric range of 300 km (NEDC) and is priced from 89,800 RMB ($12,561).
This style of the commercial van is very popular in China, and most companies producing them are now creating BEV versions from the breadbox van to the “Sprinter” sized vans. In the USA, commercial vehicles trend towards pickup trucks. In Europe, full-sized vans are most common. In China, “breadbox” vans, electric cargo tricycles, and electric mopeds are the vehicles of choice for commercial vehicles.
On the 11th of May 2020, Steve Hanley reported that the Chinese government is investing 10 billion RMB ($1.5 billion) to build 200,000 EV chargers by the end of this year. This is part of a wider post-COVID-19 economic stimulus that involves investing in key infrastructure systems, such as EV charging stations, 5G networks, DC high voltage transmission lines, and intercity transit systems.
Hanley also reported that WiTricity is leading the wireless EV charging industry in China, which was made clear by its wireless technology being adopted as the industry standard by the Chinese government.
On the 10th of May 2020, Johnna Crider wrote about the odd situation that Tesla found itself in with Alameda County, pointing out that Tesla already had first-hand experience reopening a factory in the time of COVID-19, as it had done so in Shanghai, China.
Tesla is filing a lawsuit against Alameda County immediately. The unelected & ignorant “Interim Health Officer” of Alameda is acting contrary to the Governor, the President, our Constitutional freedoms & just plain common sense!
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 9, 2020
On the 1st of May 2020, Johnna Crider reported on the news that a Tesla-focused livestream by Chinese live-streaming celebrity Viya (Huang Wei) was watched by 4 million people in China.
China's Top Livestreaming Celebrity Viya Test Drives China-Made Tesla Model 3 on her show for 1 hour tomorrow. Now this is BIG NEWS for the Chinese Market! She is the Queen of Taobao previously helped @KimKardashian sell out their perfume within seconds in China 🇨🇳#Tesla $TSLA pic.twitter.com/1XSnJSo1Ua
— Jay in Shanghai 🇨🇳 (@JayinShanghai) April 27, 2020
Online streamers specialising in selling products is common, such as Li Jiaqi, a man who is famous for selling makeup on his live streams. Brands use these famous livestreamers because they typically sell products better than a mainstream celebrity and are typically watched by a younger audience.
Building an attractive luxury reputation in China is critical to maintaining market growth and even breaking into the big three’s “aspiration marriage” car market (Mercedes, BMW, and Audi). In China, typically, if a man wishes to marry, he has to prove he is able to support his future spouse, so the parents will often ask him to provide 3/4 things — a house (apartment), a (luxury) car, cash, and sometimes gold jewelry. This is typically paid for by the groom’s parents, as most men cannot earn that much before getting married. If Tesla gains a reputation as producing safe, luxury vehicles that everyone wants, it can be expected that Tesla vehicles will become must-have marriage gifts.
A paid livestream moves Tesla away from its no-advertising model that has been the norm for Tesla, but companies typically allow local management leeway in deciding how to deal with local market conditions and what is best for that particular market — if they wish to have a chance of successfully entering and staying in that market. This livestream helps build Tesla awareness in the Chinese public’s imagination. Even if the company is supplied constrained now, the long-term investment in building a brand in the Chinese market will help China in years to come to keep the Tesla products supply constrained.
On the 21st of May 2020, guest contributor Charles Morris wrote that the new energy vehicle market has been shrinking for the last 10 months and that the Chinese market is crowded with many startup companies competing to grow fast and survive.
In this context and in the shadow of COVID-19, Charles discussed how Tesla might put large pressure onto 50+ new energy vehicle startups in the Chinese market, leading to shedding and consolidation of the market.
This conjecture regarding the Chinese market is something to come back to in a year’s time, to see what happened.
On The 4th of May 2020, Steve Hanley reported on the news that the creating a low-cost electric vehicle for the Chinese market using the SEAT brand has been dropped from the plans. This news came out before the Volkswagen Group announced it was investing in a majority share of the JAC Volkswagen joint venture. Hanley discussed some of the details of the previous approach and how SEAT and Skoda is developing a replacement for the e-UP.
On the 20th of May 2020, Dr. Maximilian Holland reported on the news that Tesla had just delivered the first Tesla Model 3 Long Range manufactured at Tesla Gigafactory 3 in Shanghai (Tesla Giga Shanghai).
Holland went into details about the specs of this vehicle and the price. He added the news that Tesla Giga Shanghai is now ready to produce 4,000 vehicles per week and Model Y production is slated to start in Q1 2021.
On the 4th of May 2020, Steve Hanley reported on the news that Tesla provided photos of progress on its battery production facility and Model Y production facility at Tesla Giga Shanghai, plus a drone video of the sites.
Steve reported on the fast pace of the construction work and the reason for the size of the facilities.
On the 12 of May 2020, Steve Hanley mused in an article if Tesla Model 3 sales in April were good based on market conditions at the time. He went into detail about the market conditions and concluded that based on the COVID-19 crisis and its fallout, it was best to stay neutral on whether April sales numbers were bad are good. (May sales have shown a big rebound, presumably due to production ramping up again.)
On the 21st of May 2020, Steve Hanley reported on the fact that in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Chinese solar industry suffered a 25% decline in installations compared to the same quarter in 2019. He went into detail about the amount installed (3.95 GW) and the news that over 60% of solar installations are in more densely populated regions (due to policy changes due to the cost of new electricity transmission lines) and that China is building more ultra-high-voltage transmission lines. The final part of his article focuses on a solar-plus-storage project in the Qinghai province.
On the 21st of May 2020, Johnna Crider reported on the news that one of the smaller Chinese battery companies, Svolt, has launched production of cobalt-free batteries. Svolt, which used to be part of Great Wall Motors, is pushing its battery chemistry as a great way to reduce dependence on cobalt while still providing good range.
China Global Ambitions
On the 14th of May 2020, Steve Hanley reported on the news that BYD is bringing the BYD Han to Europe.
He stated the specs of the car, including range of 605 km (NEDC), acceleration to 100 km per hour in 3.9 seconds, 5G connectivity, and its suspected price, which is between 45,000 euros and 55,000 euros. What is interesting is that a few Chinese companies are considering Europe as the next market for their electric vehicles, but this is a trailblazer.
On the 7th of May 2020, Steve Hanley reported that the Audi Q4 BEV will be coming to America and the BYD Tang 600 will be coming to Norway “soon.” BYD is a major Chinese brand and has been expanding its commercial and energy division outside of China for many years. Now its passenger vehicles are starting to be prepared for sale outside of its home market. The BYD Tang 600 has a 82 kWh battery with a range of 373 miles (NEDC). It uses two 150 kW electric motors.
On the 11 of May 2020, Remeredzai Joseph Kuhudzai wrote about how electric vehicles can transform the lives of people in Africa. The article is an interesting read in how electrification of transport from the bottom up can help uplift and increase the quality of life of rural women in Africa. He uses the example of Mobility For Africa (MFA).
This charity is bringing solar-powered electric transport by cooperating with Tsinghua University in China, Midlands State University in Gweru, Zimbabwe, and The Solar Shack to bring Chinese manufactured semi-knocked down kits of Chinese electric tricycles, low-speed electric vehicles (LSEV) which form a key part of the Chinese transport sector.