China × Cleantech — April 2021
Welcome to China × Cleantech — April 2021 edition. Our China x Cleantech series covers top cleantech stories in China each month.
On the 23rd of April, José Pontes reported on the sales numbers of the Chinese EV market in March of 2021. It was a great month, with a massive 211,000 registrations, a significant increase compared to last year’s numbers, a 244% increase year on year (YoY). Although, last year’s numbers were strongly affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
Overall, plug-in vehicle (PEV) sales made up 11% market share (9.2% full electric/BEV), which was the highest ever for the Chinese market, which shifted the yearly average plug-in vehicle market share to 10% (8% BEV). José Pontes noted that January and February numbers are typically weaker months for car sales, so we’ll probably see plug-in vehicle market share stay above the 10% mark this year and it might even exceed 2 million registrations.
The Wuling HongGuang Mini EV was the best-selling EV in March, with 39,745 registrations, which restarted its sales growth with a record number of registrations. This growth put the Wuling Hong Guang Mini EV in an interesting place in the electrification revolution by disrupting the norms of urban mobility. It was followed by the Tesla Model 3, which had 25,327 sales.
Other New Energy Vehicle (NEV) News
On April 19, Jo Borrás reported on the revealing of the electric Genesis G80 at Shanghai Auto 2021, which is the brand’s first BEV in any market.
Hyundai-owned Genesis is stepping into the electric luxury sedan marketplace presently dominated by Tesla.
The reported specs are that it has 500 km (310 miles) of range (based on the Korean rating system). It comes equipped with 350 kW rapid charging, which should replenish the battery from 10% to 80% charge in 22 minutes, if charged on an adequate charger.
On the 13th of April, Zachary Shahan reported that the Ford Mustang Mach-E will be made in China and that pre-orders have opened in 20 Chinese cities. Pricing ranges from $40,000 to $58,000. For charging, Ford will be partnering with State Grid (300,000 charging piles in 340 cities and on the Chinese highway network) and NIO (which has built its own network).
On April 8, Jo Borrás reported that Geely has launched an all-new brand in China that is being positioned as a premium luxury EV brand. The brand is Zeekr.
The first car from this new brand has striking similarities to a concept car from a sister brand at Geely, Lynk Co. The car is called the Zeekr 001. It uses a shooting brake/GT design and is fitted to compete in the luxury performance car market. It also has a 0–60 MPH time below 4 seconds, sporty vehicle dynamics, and over 400 miles of driving range thanks to its massive 800V battery pack.
On the 18th of April, I reported on the reveal of the ID.6 CROZZ and ID.6 X in a prerecorded Livestream.
This is the 3rd electric vehicle from Volkswagen based off of the MEB platform and part of the ID family, following the ID.3 and ID.4. Volkswagen, through its joint venture with FAW and SAIC, is launching the 7 seat, 3 row ID.6 Crozz (SAIC–VW) and ID.6 X (FAW–VW).
The ID.6’s size (similar to a Volkswagen Atlas) is:
- Length: 4,876 mm
- Width: 1,848 mm
- Height: 1,680 mm
- Wheelbase: 2,965 mm
The ID.6 will be available in four configurations, with the highest trim having 365 miles of range (NEDC) and 342 hp. It can be equipped with a 58 kWh or 77 kWh battery.
On the 22nd of April, I reported on ORA revealing three cars at Shanghai Auto 2021. The three cars are below.
The ORA Time Shuttle
This one is a heavily retro design inspired by the original Volkswagen Beetle.
The Lightning Cat
The lightning cat is rumored to be around 200,000 RMB ($30,780), yet is a sporty retro design targeting more luxury-focused consumers.
The Big Cat is an A+ Class SUV and ORA’s first SUV. It has a resemblance to the Mustang Mach-E and has the WEY design language (WEY is a sister company within Great Wall Motors). Rumors are that the price will be from 140,000–200,000 RMB ($21,550–$30,780) and the SUV will have a range of 550 km (342 miles) according to the NEDC rating system. It will be released in the 3rd quarter of 2021.
On April 16th, Remeredzai Joseph Kuhudzai wrote how the Wuling Hong Guang MINI EV is a new generation “people car” that meets commuters’ core needs without costly extra features.
Remeredzai mentions that it is popular in 3rd tier cities but is also widely popular in 2nd and 1st tier cities. He mentions the specs of the EV and that with its great success in China we might also see this vehicle go on sale in other parts of the world.
On the 10th of April, Steve Hanley reported a bit on the business strategy of BYD, pointing out that BYD’s two newest cars are cheaper than the Tesla Model 3, which is priced at 249,900 yuan ($38,135).
The Qin Plus sedan starts at 129,800 yuan ($19,820), and the Song Plus, an SUV, starts at 169,800 yuan ($25,911).
He also reported a notable announcement from BYD chairman Wang Chuanfu. “From today onwards, all pure NEVs (new energy vehicles) under the BYD brand will adopt blade battery. I hope safety will no longer be a barrier to the proliferation of new energy vehicles. Some industry participants have irrationally gone after NCM batteries [to chase after] ever-higher driving range at the expense of stability and safety. Some 124 incidents of NEVs emitting smoke were recorded in China last year.” This is key, because BYD is a leader in LFP chemistry batteries and will only be using this chemistry. Consumers in China and around the world are concerned about thermal events (fires) in BEV vehicles, even if those are indeed far less common than fires in gasmobiles.
On the 10th of April, Steve Hanley reported on the news that SAIC-owned MG is introducing a roadster, the MG Cyberster.
The MG Cyberster was designed at SAIC’s London design center and is supposed to represent a “vision of the future,” but no details were revealed at the unveiling. There are reports, however, indicating that it has a 0–62 MPH (0–100 km/h) time of sub-3.0 secs and a claimed range of up to 500 miles. MG marketing targets young male “gamers” in China, and the MG Cyberster continues this trend.
On the 9th of April, Zachary Shahan reported on the news that NIO and its partner JAC had produced their 100,000th vehicle on April 7. It was less than one year since they hit the 50,000 mark. Even Tesla CEO Elon Musk chimed in to congratulate NIO.
Congrats to NIO. That is a tough milestone.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 9, 2021
Zachary also went into some detail about NIO sales, a breakdown of the NEV model sale numbers in March 2021, and NIO’s history and market offerings.
On the 22nd of April, Johnna Crider discussed that the Tesla brand is still very popular in China even in light of an owner spectacle at Shanghai Auto 2021 and the ensuing media coverage and government criticism. (More recently, the owner apologized and said the issue was not really real. …)
Other electric vehicles produced nearby, like the Ford Mustang Mach-E and Polestar 2, have failed to draw as much attention. I would also like to note that the drama generated by the owner at Shanghai Auto 2021 was similar to a customer scenario that happened in 2019, when a Chinese woman protested bad service by Mercedes-Benz by broadcasting a showroom protest (sitting on the front of the car) on social media, which got 200 million views.
On the 14th of April, Maarten Vinkhuyzen wrote that rumors have started that Tesla’s next gigafactory will be a second factory in Shanghai.
The logic behind this is that the present site is not big enough for what Tesla plans to create in China, which necessitates a second production facility, and that due to Tesla needing this facility as soon as possible, it could be Tesla’s 6th large-scale production facility (gigafactory).
On the 4th of April, Zachary Shahan wrote about rumors that Tesla has introduced a second shift for Tesla Model Y production at Gigafactory Shanghai. Zachary mentions that this production might have caused projections of Tesla Q1 sales to be lower than reality.
I have an update on the second shift for Model Y production at Giga Shanghai. It looks like it was temporary and they returned to a single shift after a short time.
Eventually, production should be 23K/month with 4 shifts but there is only a single shift right now (5750/month). https://t.co/inYnbPIZnj
— Troy Teslike (@TroyTeslike) March 27, 2021
On the 23rd of April, Zachary Shahan reported on the news that on a Zoom call with Xpeng and reporters about autonomous tech that XinZhou Wu, Vice President of Autonomous Driving at Xpeng, indicated in response to a question from Zachary that they were planning to reach “Level 4 Light” autonomy in 18–24 months. The article goes into depth about Xpeng autonomous technology news and other points, including Xpeng’s 3rd model, the P5, which will have “the most advanced autonomous technology architecture in its class.” Xpeng signed a deal with the City of Wuhan to build a new Xpeng Motors Wuhan Smart EV Manufacturing Base in the city, one with a 100,000-vehicle production capacity.
On the 20th April, Zachary Shahan published the first part of a two-part interview with Rodney Hooper of RK Equity and they discussed lithium and EV battery production and supply forecasts for 2025–2030 in Europe, China, the US, and globally. Have a listen.
On the 30th of April, Remeredzai Joseph Kuhudzai wrote that in Kenya the BYD T3 BEV can be leased by META Electric. He discussed how Africa might be about to leapfrog ICE (internal combustion engine) technology and go to BEV technology, just like mobile technology overtook the deployment of landline technology before in the developing world.
On the 17th of April, Remeredzai Joseph Kuhudzai wrote that BYD Zimbabwe opened its new EV experience center as well as a service center and that it added a second BEV to its lineup in Zimbabwe, the BYD E6.
The BYD E6 comes with a 70 kWh battery, which has an estimated range of 450 km according to the WLTP testing cycle. It has a 70 kW AC permanent magnet synchronous motor.
On the 15th April, Steve Hanley reported on the news that NIO is opening a showroom in Oslo, Norway, which is part of NIO’s plan to open a series of stores, service centers, NIO Houses, and charging facilities/battery swap stations around Norway in the coming years.
The 1,700 square meter NIO showroom will occupy two floors in Karl Johans gate, which is in the central corridor in downtown Oslo that connects the main railroad station and the Royal Palace. It is next door to the fashionable Grand Hotel and will include a bar, a café, offices, and meeting rooms.
On the 6th of April, Remeredzai Joseph Kuhudzai wrote about a female-owned delivery service TPL Onthego in Zimbabwe that is looking to expand with Chinese-made EV scooters. This is an interesting story of cross-pollination between China and Zimbabwe, and also another example of how COVID-19 has caused new businesses to emerge due to the the struggles we’ve faced.