What’s Behind the Boom in New Chinese EV Makers?
Maybe you’re thinking about buying a new car or are still wondering which car is right for you. If that is the case, then you should definitely consider an electric vehicle or EV. They didn’t start when Elon Musk announced the Tesla Model S, but in fact were already a thing in the mid-19th century. Nowadays, electric vehicles are also very popular in China.
Since only 2014 more than 20 new EV companies have been founded in China. Some of them were pure startups, while others involved a combination of Chinese automakers and internet companies such as Alibaba, Baidu, Tencent, and others. All of these electric vehicle startups in China have been able to raise incredible amounts of money to bring their new EVs to the market.
These startups are entering a market that is already crowded with hundreds of companies making cars, trucks, and buses. Between 2002 and 2016 the number of vehicles sold annually in China skyrocketed from 2 million to over 28 million. China’s car industry already amounts for one-third of worldwide sales and generates $620 billion each year. The country is also one of the world’s largest internet economies with almost 750 million users which makes the convergence of the internet and automobiles easier. On top of that, China has seen incredible economic growth over the last twenty years and accumulated vast financial capital.
China’s electric car market is growing twice as fast as its counterpart in the US; in 2017 more than 750,000 new electric vehicles were sold in China, compared to the about 200,000 in the US. This corresponds to 63 % of new energy vehicles that are sold globally, and for 2018 this number is expected to increase to over 1 million sold vehicles. This year, nearly 290,000 applicants in the capital Beijing alone are waiting to receive a license plate for “new energy vehicles”. However, the city only has a quota of 54,000 license plates for this year; some people might have to wait for up to five years to get a plate. This change is driven by the Chinese government who want to be at forefront of new energy vehicles. The government wants to see EVs account for 12 % of all vehicle sales by 2020. Meanwhile, electric vehicles still remain a niche market in the US and elsewhere.
I would like to introduce some of the most interesting Chinese EV startups that are still active today; many other companies that were created during the boom of 2014 had to close down due to a lack of funding or other difficulties.
Singulato invested $2.39 billion in a manufacturing hub in Suzhou (east China) until 2023. Their prototype shows a large electric SUV with giant double gull-wing doors, called the Singulato iS6. The company states that the vehicle will have a range of 400 km and will be able to accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h in four seconds. Finally, Singulato has stated an aggressive retail price of $32,000 once the iS6 hits the market.
Formerly known as NextEV, is one of the most well-funded new Chinese EV startups. They are about to deliver their first NIO ES8 all-electric SUV vehicles and are opening right next to Tesla in Beijing. In 2017, the company raised more than $600 million to bring the ES8 into production. Their price for the standard ES8 starts at approximately $68,000 which is roughly half the price of the Tesla Model X in China. NIO will also offer a battery renting scheme which lowers the price upfront for the vehicle to $42,000. NIO plans to set up a total of 1,100 battery swapping stations by 2020 which will be able to replace the battery pack of the ES8 in about 3 minutes. Furthermore, they intend to offer mobile charging stations – vans equipped with battery packs and chargers.
WM started with a $1 billion investment from Tencent and Baidu and plans to manufacture as many as 50,000 cars in 2018. WM Motor launched their electric SUV under the brand “Weltmeister” and aim to gain a range of up to 600 km for a price tag of roughly $45,000.
Henry Xia founded Xiaopeng in 2014. He launched his startup using open-source patents provided by Tesla. The CEO of Tesla, Elon Musk, has made it his mission to accelerate the advent of electric transport which is why he made his company’s patents open source. While it is not clear whether Xiaopeng uses any of these open-source patents, although the company has stated that Tesla’s technology and their free patents have brought forth the inspiration and motivation behind the company. In 2017, Xiaopeng launched their first vehicle, the Xpeng which is an all-electric SUV. Its battery enables about 300 km of range. They also have plans for autonomous and assisted driving.
Founded as the “Future Mobility Corporation”, Byton made the news when it presented a flashy concept SUV electric vehicle at the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show. The futuristic vehicle sports a dashboard spanning screen as well as a tablet set into the steering wheel. The suggested price for the vehicle is about $45,000. At the CES Asia in Shanghai, Byton presented another new vehicle, an electric sedan named K-Byte. This new model, which will be manufactured by 2021, is set to offer full autonomous driving and will share many of the technological gadgets that their SUVs have.
So, no matter how many of these concepts and projects finally come to fruition, it seems as if the future of the automotive industry is greener and environmentally friendly than ever. It also remains to be seen how American and European car manufacturers will react to this development, and will show if they will also start to invest heavily in new energy vehicles.
About the Author
Eduard Lerperger is a Marketing and Communications Specialist for askalo – the free classifieds search engine. He writes about jobs, homes, and cars and helps his readers to make life’s big decisions easier.