That’s because of a seismic shift toward EVs, which has spurred billions of dollars in investments by carmakers, startups.
BEIJING: An iPhone assembler, ecommerce emporium and real-estate developer typically don’t compete in the same business — except when it comes to electric vehicles in China.
That’s because of a seismic shift toward EVs, which has spurred billions of dollars in investments by traditional carmakers, startups and titans of the internet, electronics and real-estate industries. The rush is on even as the government pulls back on the subsidies that juiced the industry to begin with.
There are now 486 EV manufacturers registered in China, more than triple the number from two years ago. While sales of passenger EVs are projected to reach a record 1.6 million units this year, that’s likely not enough to keep all those assembly lines humming, prompting warnings that the ballooning EV market could burst and leave behind only a few survivors.
“We are going to see great waves sweeping away sand in the EV industry,” said Thomas Fang, a partner and strategy consultant at Roland Berger in Shanghai. “It is a critical moment that will decide life or death for EV startups.” At least two dozen of those electric-car brands will be showcasing models at the Shanghai auto show starting this week.
They range in expertise from nascent supercar maker Qiantu Motor to US-traded startup NIO and elder statesman BYD.
Dozens of startups have entered the global EV business in recent years, raising $18 billion since 2011, according to Bloomberg.
Most of the biggest fundraisers are Chinese, including NIO, WM Motor, Xpeng Motors and Youxia Motors. The startups promise to deliver a collective manufacturing capacity of 3.9 million vehicles a year. That’s excluding what some of the world’s biggest automakers are planning. Annual sales of passenger EVs only surpassed one million units for the first time last year, according to BNEF, spurred by the subsidies that could slice thousands of dollars off the sticker price.
Yet EV sales make up just 4% of overall passenger vehicle sales of 23.7 million units, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers.Sales of traditional cars are currently in a free fall, plunging for the 10th straight month in March as a slowing economy and trade tensions with the US weigh on consumer sentiment. “There is still huge room out there in the new-energy vehicle market with China’s relatively low vehiclepenetration rate,” said Cui Dongshu, secretary-general of the China Passenger Car Association.