Chinese NEV firms feeling bullish

By Chu Daye Source:Global Times Published: 2017/10/10 21:58:40

Companies ready to compete on global stage


A driver eats a meal while charging his BYD electric taxi at a charging station in Shenzhen, South China's Guangdong Province on September 20. Photo: IC

Two leading Chinese new-energy vehicle (NEV) makers have said they are confident in competing with global auto giants as the era of green vehicles dawns, citing support from a solid home base and recent technological advancement.

Domestic players are feeling confident as governments and automakers around the world have been rolling out timetables to adopt NEVs amid pressure to curb environmental damage, the Economic Information Daily reported on Tuesday.

According to a Fitch report issued in August, Chinese automakers have emerged as formidable players in the global electric vehicle industry thanks to rapid expansion of the domestic market.

BYD Co, which is backed by US investor Warren Buffett, overtook US-based Tesla Inc to become the world's largest NEV maker by sales volume two years ago. Additionally, nine Chinese NEV brands ranked among the world's top 20 in 2016, the Fitch report said.

A new era

In a statement sent to the Global Times on Tuesday, BYD said that it was drawing confidence from the awards it has received, increased brand awareness and strong sales performance.

BYD has been the world's top NEV firm for two consecutive years, selling 67,100 units in 2015 and 114,315 in 2016, according to the statement. The company also sells its products to over 50 countries and regions globally, and has set up plants in the US, Brazil, Hungary and France.

The company has expanded its product portfolio beyond passenger cars in the past two years and now also makes buses, taxis and special-purpose vehicles used in logistics, urban sanitation, airports and mining sites.

Meanwhile, BAIC Group's electric car making arm, Beijing Electric Vehicle Co (BAIC BJEV), also said it is in a strong position in terms of sales, product offerings and ecosystem buildup.

The company has rolled out a dozen models so far, with recharge mileage ranging from 200 to 400 kilometers, according to a statement the company sent to the Global Times on Tuesday, and it plans to reach an annual sales volume of 500,000 units by 2020.

BAIC BJEV said that NEVs will definitely be the vehicles of the future, but it is still too early to say the NEV era has truly arrived.

However, policy support and the industry's growth momentum will ensure the era will come soon, the company said.

"China lags behind in terms of knowhow about combustion engines used by traditional cars, but NEVs are new and domestic and foreign players are at roughly the same starting point. This situation is conducive for China's transformation from a big auto market into one with a strong industry," read the statement from BAIC BJEV.

BAIC BJEV said it ranked first among automakers in the number of charging points, having built about 7 percent of the nation's public charging points and 18 percent of the private ones.

The company also said it will complete the construction of 200 battery swap stations around the nation, allowing its battery-powered vehicles to swap from empty to fully charged batteries in less than three minutes, boosting operational efficiency.

Challenges

The Chinese companies face competition from carmakers in the US and Japan, Fitch analysts said, but the firms themselves are confident that they can succeed.

"The company's existing technological lead and market dominance give us confidence," BYD said.

BAIC BJEV said the Chinese market is big enough to accommodate foreign brands and their joint ventures once they bring their new products in, but domestic brands will still have significant advantages.

"This is our home turf, and we have already built up a user base along with technological know-how and infrastructure, so we are fully confident we can compete with foreign brands," the company said.

Gao Jian, an independent industry observer, told the Global Times Tuesday that domestic brands are well-positioned to compete with foreign carmakers, given their current strong positions.

"Traditional auto giants probably won't be able to make as much of a dent [in the NEV sector] as they have with their traditional gasoline-powered offerings. The domestic brands will maintain their lead in the market," Gao said.



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