Tag: China

By on May 15, 2020

Tesla plans to introduce a cheaper, longer-lasting battery in Model 3 sedans produced for Chinese customers. With the industry awaiting the next breakthrough in battery tech, and the hope that such a development will bring electric vehicle pricing closer to internal combustion units, this is a big deal.

Initial data also seems to suggest these cells plan on delivering — offering more affordable production options and a million-mile lifespan (a claim always worthy of a grain of salt). According to those familiar with the plan, the batteries also have the capability to be extracted from cars to serve as home-energy solutions. Battery waste is going to become a serious problem once EVs enter into the mainstream. Tesla’s new plan might fail to address the endgame, but it could prolong their usefulness and buy additional time before they have to be recycled or stored at specially designated waste containment areas that can handle hazardous materials.  (Read More…)

By on May 11, 2020

Chinese auto sales grew 4.4 percent last month vs a year earlier, rising to 2.07 million vehicles, according to tabulations released by the government-backed China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM) on Monday. This is actually better than its preliminary assessment suggested, with the new figure helping put an end to a 21-month slump of declining automotive sales.

Unfortunately for the region, it doesn’t seem to be indicative of a full recovery. In its report, CAAM noted that the rebound may be only temporary. Last month’s figures were primarily elevated by commercial vehicles, which saw record growth at 32 percent (year over year). Passenger vehicles also saw their numbers improve from the month prior, but they still down 2.6 percent in April. The improvement is widely seen as the result of backlogged orders that couldn’t be completed during the most prohibitive period of the pandemic, as well as the Chinese Communist Party ordering more work vehicles to stimulate the economy.   (Read More…)

By on May 7, 2020

The China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM) reports that April was healthier than expected, resulting in an estimated 2 million new vehicle sales. This would be the first time in a couple years the market has seen any monthly growth, with CAAM taking to the Tencent-owned WeChat to announce a single-percent gain over April 2019.

Considering the pandemic is anticipated to suppress global auto sales by anywhere from 10 to 20 percent, it seems premature to call anything a victory. Likewise, influence from the Chinese Communist Party has made any statistics coming out of the country highly suspect. Much of the world is currently under the impression that the nation’s leadership is in an all-out effort to project the country’s strength after failing to share helpful information in a timely manner and downplaying its coronavirus-related deaths. We don’t know what information is credible, especially since all groups (which includes individuals, state institutions, and corporations) are required by law to have direct ties to China’s only political party.

So that’s it then? It’s all bunk? Not quite. While there are plenty of reasons to doubt information coming out of China, there are also reasons to buy what CAAM is selling.  (Read More…)

By on May 7, 2020

Reports indicate Tesla has idled production in Shanghai, despite plans for the facility to resume production this week. Workers had been given time off for a five-day break that incorporated China’s International Workers’ Day (May 1st), with production expected to resume on the 6th. However, the facility made the surprise decision to remain closed.

Staff have been informed that the facility will not reopen until May 9th, according to inside sources. While this may lead one to wonder if the factory has found itself at the epicenter of a new coronavirus outbreak, there’s likely another explanation. Local outlets report Giga Shanghai as suffering from part shortages. (Read More…)

By on April 27, 2020

World leaders like to travel in comfort, security, and style — which is why you never see presidential motorcades formed around a Nissan Versa. Instead, security details crowd around something big, black, and closely tied to a domestic nameplate if the nation in question has such a manufacturer. In China, the preferred choice among high-ranking government officials has been FAW Group’s Hongqi luxury brand. Translated into English, the name means “Red Flag” and it’s the pride of China, even though the bulk of FAW’s premium models are a redux of various automotive products produced by foreign manufacturers.

That includes Hongqi’s first vehicle, the CA72. Launched in 1958 as a model exclusive to state institutions and the leadership of the Communist Party of China, the CA72 was basically a 1955 Chrysler sedan with a different grille. While that model line has had its own evolution, subsequent FAW products from the modern era benefited from joint partnerships with automakers like Mazda, General Motors, Toyota, and Audi.

A new joint venture specifically targeting Hongqi is now underway, and its a curious one. An American electric vehicle startup named SilkEV is apparently teaming up with the brand that symbolizes the CCP to produce high-end performance cars, and they’re spending a bundle to do so.  (Read More…)

By on April 20, 2020

Volkswagen Group has announced that its sales declined 23 percent against the previous year, to 2 million deliveries, from January through March of this year. Based upon last week’s assessment of the ailing European market, the region seems to have contributed quite a bit to VW’s downfall. However, the company said it is optimistic that the Chinese market will soon recover as the coronavirus pandemic loses strength in the region.

As the manufacturer’s largest market, Volkswagen has a lot riding on China coming out of this in once piece. There certainly have been a surplus of articles claiming the nation is on the fast track to economic restoration, but we’ve also heard enough conflicting reports on the status of its convalescence that it’s difficult to feel confident of anything. What exactly is in store for VW and other automakers doing business in China? (Read More…)

By on April 15, 2020

With the rippling economic effects of the coronavirus outbreak starting to take hold, some industry analysts have begun floating the increasingly popular theory that various markets could stage a retreat from China. While the Chinese Communist Party’s mishandling of the pandemic — including cover-ups (and the possible manipulation of the World Health Organization) that ultimately encouraged the virus’ spread — are often cited as the impetus for the change, the actual decisions will be largely economic. COVID-19 threatens countless nations’ financial welfare as it simultaneously disrupts global supply chains.

The virus has also sent the auto industry into a holding pattern as manufacturers and suppliers hemorrhage money. While the assumption exists that this situation could encourage international automakers to refocus on domestic production, there haven’t been many examples to point to. Renault changed that this week, announcing plans to abandon its joint venture with China’s Dongfeng Motor Corporation. The move, however, may have less to do with the presumed industrial exodus than the company’s general financial situation.  (Read More…)

By on April 10, 2020

By “you,” we mean those of you not living in China. In that country, however, customers will soon have access to a Tesla Model 3 variant with more range than what’s available in North America.

As Tesla’s Shanghai assembly plant ramps up production and adds more variation to its offerings, Tesla is in a good position to dominate the country’s “new energy vehicle” market. It also frees itself from import tariffs that suppressed sales via higher sticker prices. (Read More…)

By on April 8, 2020

With China serving as the flashpoint of the coronavirus outbreak that brought the world down a peg or two, industry and financial analysts have been watching that market like a hawk. The country went into this crisis before any other, which may prove useful for predicting the general path of global recovery efforts.

Unfortunately, specious reports about the number of infected citizens inside that nation have cast a double-quilted blanket of doubt over its official statistics. We don’t actually know if the Chinese government has effectively wrangled the illness or is just hoping to win an international public relations battle. Fortunately, infection rates and death tolls aren’t the only metrics we have to rely on.

According to the China Passenger Car Association, auto sales plummeted by as much as 96 percent since COVID-19 began its relentless spread. This came after months of negative sales growth, leaving the Chinese market in a truly unenviable situation once mandatory quarantines were enacted. Now, circumstances have changed. Showrooms are reopening and many factories have resumed operations, only this time they’re the ones that have to worry about supply chain issues.  (Read More…)

By on April 7, 2020

Timing is everything, a famous person (possibly Gerald Ford) once said, and it would seem Tesla is in a position to capitalize on the returning consumer strength of the Chinese marketplace.

In a week that will be remembered by many Chinese as bringing about a return of free will and movement, such as that country can offer, Tesla plans to begin offering a domestically built Model 3 with considerable range. (Read More…)

By on April 1, 2020

Subaru Legacy 2018 Logo Emblem Grille

Subaru is joining the long list of automakers closing shop on account of the coronavirus. Japanese production is being suspended at the automaker’s main plaint in the country’s Gunma prefecture from April 11th through the first of May. It’s also idling the Oizumi engine facility as it announces plans to extend the suspension of its U.S. facility in Indiana. The plant will now be idled through April 20th.

While some of the closures are due to social distancing obligations, the rest is down to parts allocation. Subaru is heavily reliant on components manufactured in China, and it’s still not clear how things are actually going there. What is clear is that Subaru (and plenty of other manufacturers) can’t do without its robust industrial sector operating at full strength. Subaru CFO Toshiaki Okada said in February that “it’s impossible to manufacture cars without China.”  (Read More…)

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…)

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