Chinese auto startup Nio just had its $1 billion US initial public offering. While the share price fluctuates, investors ask the same question: will the Shanghai-based upstart supplant Tesla as the world’s top luxury electric car brand? Like Tesla, its cars offer sleek, space-age designs. It also has a flair for marketing stunts: in Nio’s case, setting the fastest lap ever recorded by an electric car at Germany’s Nürburgring. But Nio is offering cutting-edge technology at jaw-dropping prices. Its ES8, priced at RMB 448,000 ($70,000), costs only around half as much as a Tesla Model X does in China.
Like its whole economy, China’s auto market grew at breakneck pace in the 2000s, and while it is slowing down, it still contains enormous potential in terms of both raw sales and innovation as China shifts toward electric. The Chinese government is actively promoting new-energy vehicles, offering subsidies that amount to about 23% of the price of a vehicle. And consumers, many of whom no longer consider car ownership as a status symbol, are more willing to buy electric cars. Yet despite favorable policies and growing market demand, there are challenges ahead: lack of power stations, fragmented manufacturing of power batteries and insufficient innovation.
As people imagine the future of transportation, the first thing they think of is driverless cars. There are still many questions to consider, however, and not just at the level of personal safety. How will transportation networks adapt? What about laws and regulations? What will be the impact on logistics and employment? Many technology firms and automakers have had their prototypes, but none which could be commercialized for public use. Wu Gansha, a veteran engineer and former director of Intel Labs China, suggests a rapid way to commercialize driverless cars. He claims that the car produced by his startup will commercialize in two years.
Xiaomi, once the most popular smartphone vendor in China, is showing signs of decline. Back in the day, Xiaomi broke the mold by offering a feature-rich phone at an impossibly low price point. Its unique marketing strategy and business model helped it to break online sales records. But soon others started copying Xiaomi’s strategy and the novelty wore off. The company has been slow to innovate. For phone buyers, Xiaomi ended up being a low-end phone: once they had enough money, they would upgrade to an Apple or Samsung. Today Xiaomi is quickly diversifying from phones to rice cookers and drones. But is that enough to come back to relevance?
French carmaker Renault has finally begun production in China after selling imported cars here for more than a decade. In February 2014, Renault signed a joint venture agreement with Dongfeng Motor Corporation. Carlos Ghosn, chairman and CEO of the Renault Group, once said that he hoped that Dongfeng Renault could get 3% of the Chinese market. Jacques Daniel, CEO of Dongfeng Renault, has his work cut out for him: the market is slowing down and rivals are already well-entrenched. In this interview Daniel explains how the company is adjusting its strategy for a slowing Chinese market, marketing to the Chinese consumer and the opportunity in electric vehicles.
As awareness increases, Chinese consumers are taking to electric vehicles. But just how evolved is the Chinese electric car industry?
Having finally brought its innovative technology here, Tesla China now faces the challenge of making it work in the worldʼs largest auto market.
The China statistics you need to know: from data on growth in R&D spending to flagging automobile sales and China’s precious metal exports.
A look at how Chinese outbound investment in auto is rising and how marquee brands like Volvo Cars and Manganese Bronze now belong to Chinese companies.
Infiniti, a relatively new entrant in China’s luxury automobile sector, is growing at a phenomenal pace. Daniel Kirchert, MD, Infiniti China, talks of the company’s China strategy, competition with the German car makers, and the need to become a ‘social topic’ in China.