Tag: China

By on March 24, 2020

Now fully an automotive brand, Polestar aims to attract more than just a limited number of hugely wealthy customers. That was Polestar 1. Now it’s time for Polestar 2, a more affordable, four-door electric sedan with sporting prowess and eco-consciousness in spades.

How did Polestar pull off the unusual feat of starting production of a new model when assembly lines across the globe are going dark amid the coronavirus pandemic? Because production is occurring in China, the country that birthed the virus, then left it on its neighbors’ doorsteps. (Read More…)

By on March 23, 2020

With the way China organized its great leap forward into electrification, we knew it would bury hundreds of automotive startups in the process. By propping up countless businesses, China ensured it could boast more new EV manufacturers than any other nation on the planet. Yet most  industry watchers presumed there would be a low survival rate once these fresh firms attempted to transition into legitimate automakers. Some analysts predicted only 10 percent would still be in operation by 2023, while others said 1 percent was probably more realistic.

While this trial by fire seemed poised to weed out lesser-known companies, we’ve seen major players struggling of late. One of them is NIO — a company broadly viewed as a Tesla rival, but which is probably most famous for building the EP9 electric hypercar that traveled the globe to smash EV records in 2017. NIO had a tough 2019, posting a $479-million loss during the second quarter and announced the elimination of 2,000 employees — that’s after it sold its Formula-E team, closed an office in California, abandoned at least one planned factory, and ditched one new model mid-development.

The company now openly acknowledges that it might not survive through 2020.  (Read More…)

By on March 12, 2020

Mexico, the birthplace of many lower-end automotive offerings, could see plants go dark by the end of the month if the global supply chain doesn’t sort itself out. Specifically, that means China, a prolific producer of parts.

Production in that country has been stymied since major lockdowns enacted in late January to halt the spread of the emerging coronavirus pandemic left factories idle. And while the country has begun relaxing measures that kept workers away from plants, China’s manufacturing heartland has been slow to rebound. (Read More…)

By on March 9, 2020

As the coronavirus epidemic scares populations out of stores, transportation hubs, and stock markets, autonomous vehicles may be getting a leg up in China. Bloomberg reports that Neolix, an autonomous delivery company based in Beijing, has seen a surge in demand as people opt to stay home (or are forced into quarantined by the Chinese government). Founder Yu Enyuan said the startup has booked orders for more than than 200 autonomous delivery pods since knowledge of COVID-19 became public — noting it had only produced 125 units in the eight months leading up to that.

Thanks to being overhyped by an industry that wasn’t anywhere near as far along as claimed, autonomous vehicles haven’t earned a lot of love lately. Yet Neolix’s minor victory suggests they may have useful applications that previously went ignored. In the realm of humanoid robotics, the goal if often to design a platform that can successfully fill in for a living, breathing person when the surrounding environment becomes too dangerous. Why not for AVs?  (Read More…)

By on March 2, 2020

In a report that harkens back to the grim days of World War 2-era Germany, several automakers are accused of benefiting from forced labor.

An Australian think tank claims upwards of 80,000 Uighurs, a persecuted ethnic minority in northwest China, have been transported from state-run re-education and internment camps to the factories of Chinese suppliers. Among the companies said to benefit from the forced labor are Apple, Sony, Nike, Volkswagen, BMW, and General Motors. (Read More…)

By on February 25, 2020

As we told you last week, the rampaging coronavirus outbreak and subsequent restrictions on movement has forced Chinese automakers to use technology in new ways. With sales plunging and millions barred indoors, auto giant Geely turned to online retailing, allowing customers to order and configure cars from home. The automaker even allowed for test drives to take place at the buyer’s residence.

One aspect of the epidemic was the cancellation of a splashy February 14th sales launch for the new Icon small crossover, which hit the market this week. The event may have been scrubbed, but Geely still found a way to use the virus to its advantage.  (Read More…)

By on February 24, 2020

gm

The price seems right, the range looks good, and the body? Well, we’ve seen far more ungainly vehicles achieve success in the past. The Chevrolet Menlo, the bowtie brand’s first EV in China, went on sale in the troubled nation last week with both pros and cons in its corner.

For American viewers who can only look at the Bolt and wish it looked like this, there’s clearly design hope for a U.S.-bound model. (Read More…)

By on February 21, 2020

Forgive us for mentioning the coronavirus, or whatever it’s called now, once again. As the highly infectious illness spreads in China (and now South Korea and Iran), a staggering piece of data shows what happens to a country’s auto sales when the one-party state won’t let citizens leave their home. (Read More…)

By on February 21, 2020

infiniti nissan factory japan

Yep, we’re still talking about the damned coronavirus. But how could we not, with the situation being obfuscated from all sides as the outbreak just seems to worsen? Both Japan and South Korea have reported their first deaths relating to the virus; meanwhile, the unsettling theory that 2019-nCoV was created in a Chinese laboratory has grown by leaps and bounds.

While the mainstream media has dismissed this as an unfounded conspiracy, loads of circumstantial evidence published by reputable sources leave one wondering. Our favorite is that the exotic meat market initially pegged as the disease’s point of origin was across the the street from (get this) a viral disease laboratory. Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) has repeatedly pushed for the virus’ origin to be found, saying “We also know that just a few miles away from that food market is China’s only biosafety level 4 super laboratory that researches human infectious diseases,” only to be framed as an alarmist crank.

There was also a Chinese coverup (similar to SARS) that kicked off when police detained eight doctors in Wuhan for attempting to warn the public of a potential outbreak. The point here is that nobody seems ready to give (or even search for) answers in China. Naturally, this has left people confused and scared, rather than just scared. (Read More…)

By on February 20, 2020

It could be argued that a large portion of the Chinese economy has been propped up by government programs, with electric vehicles making one of the best examples. With a vested interest in battery technology, China did everything it could to encourage industry players to focus on EVs while subsidizing their purchase by consumers. The end result was a country with the highest number of alternative-energy vehicles in the world — and more automotive automotive startups than it knew what to do with.

While the plan was always to force accelerated competition by getting new manufacturing firms to duke it out for supremacy, EV sales were also supposed to remain sky high. Yet they didn’t. China’s auto market began running out of steam far earlier than everyone assumed. When the country nixed electric-vehicle subsidies over the summer, the segment went into a tailspin, with every successive month returning negative growth.

China would like to see things turn around, so it’s mulling the prospect of reintroducing incentives to get EVs into more driveways.  (Read More…)

By on February 20, 2020

If you recall our piece from yesterday, automakers like Nissan are counting on Chinese workers to return to their factories on February 21st, thus preventing a widespread parts shortage that could idle plants on a global scale. That date would be the first day of resumed work in Hubei province following a government-mandated shutdown of all facilities — a tactic aimed at halting the spread of novel coronavirus.

If workers return Friday, the thinking went, the supply chain disruption currently afflicting the world’s automakers won’t be too bad. Well, bad news.

China now says Hubei won’t come online until March 11th. (Read More…)

By on February 19, 2020

Nissan titan assembly Canton Factory

It wasn’t long ago — just a day, actually — that Nissan’s already embattled CEO told shareholders he’d happily be fired if the company’s turnaround efforts fall flat.

Less than a week after posting its first quarterly loss in a decade, Nissan now fears that a supply chain disruption born of the Chinese coronavirus outbreak could idle plants worldwide. It’s the last thing the company needs. (Read More…)

By on February 17, 2020

Thanks to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak in China, the Beijing auto show has reportedly been postponed. While the event was supposed to take place at the end of April, making its yearly trade with the similarly biannual Shanghai trade show, organizers have decided it’s not worth the risk.

Over 70,000 people have reportedly contracted the virus thus far, with the death toll estimated to be somewhere around 1,700. The White House recently said it did not have “high confidence in the information coming out of China,” estimating higher figures. Travel and shipping bans further complicate the matter. Germany’s Automobilwoche said exhibitors wouldn’t be able to ship displays into the country anyway, referencing health notices sent to global logistics organization CIETC.  (Read More…)

By on February 14, 2020

gm

We’re not talking about a digital threat here; no, it’s more just one more headache caused by the viral outbreak rampaging through the Chinese manufacturing heartland — the source of so many components crucial to domestic auto production.

At General Motors, a supply chain disruption is the last thing the company needs after weathering an expensive 40-day strike at its U.S. plants last fall. The automaker is now attempting to allay fears of idled plants in the wake of an ominous social media post. (Read More…)

By on February 14, 2020

Of all the production upsets born of coronavirus-caused supply chain disruptions, the idling of Fiat Chrysler’s Kragujevac, Serbia assembly plant is certainly not near the top. Not for American consumers, anyway.

The automaker announced Friday that the plant, home to the unloved Fiat 500L, will be offline until sometime late in the month. If U.S. inventory suffered, would anyone notice? (Read More…)

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