NEV makers move fast in China leveraging innovation, cooperation

HEFEI   -   Fierce competition has driven up technological innovation and industrial upgrading in China’s new energy vehicle (NEV) sector, with auto brands revving up investment and seeking cooperation.

“I’m dazzled by the new configurations of NEVs, with large touch screen, voice control, and autopilot system being almost basic features for many,” said Zhou Ning, a resident in Hefei, east China’s Anhui Province, who is considering purchasing the family’s second car. “When there are several options of different car brands within my budget, I feel like I can really take time to choose one that caters best to my needs,” he added.

As the NEVs claim an ever-growing market share and consumer recognition, Chinese automakers are going all out to improve product performance through enhanced technological input while setting attractive prices for a higher penetration rate. At the same time, authorities in China are working to provide a sound breeding ground for innovative cooperation between domestic and foreign enterprises on the NEV industrial chain.

TECH-INTENSIVE

More players are pitching into the NEV sector. China’s tech giant Huawei in mid-April made an announcement for a new electric car model Luxeed S7, featuring its self-developed operating system Harmony OS. In late March, Xiaomi, another renowned Chinese tech firm, released its first self-developed NEV model SU7. NEV makers’ fast upgrades in technology has put Chinese consumers in the driver’s seat, with high-tech being the supporter of sales growth.

Meanwhile, the recent years have seen closer interactions between automakers and hi-tech companies, with new technologies more frequently applied on NEVs, spurring new consumption growth. For Xiaomi’s SU7, technological breakthroughs in key fields have been achieved, such as modeling design, batteries, intelligent driving and intelligent cockpits, said Lei Jun, founder and CEO of Xiaomi at SU7’s launch event.

Aito, an NEV brand jointly developed by Huawei and Chongqing-based automaker Seres, started the delivery of a six-seater sports utility vehicle (SUV) M9 in February this year, featuring a futuristic smart cockpit running on Harmony OS. Also not long ago, GAC Group’s Aion and Didi, a leading Chinese ride-hailing service provider, announced that their joint venture (JV), Guangzhou Andi Technology Co Ltd has secured its business licence. This is the first domestic JV in China between an L4 autonomous driving provider and an automotive manufacturer aiming at producing mass-market vehicles for autonomous taxi services.

Zhang Yongwei, vice chairman and secretary-general of the China EV 100, an NEV industry think tank, said that integrating advantageous elements such as vehicles, roads, networks, computing power and data into systematic engineering is the most effective path to promote the automotive industry into the next level, which is a more intelligently connected ecosystem in China. Boosted by multiple factors, China’s auto sales rose 10.6 percent year on year to 6.72 million units in the first quarter of this year, data from the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers showed.

INTENSE COMPETITION

Last year saw a survival battle among Chinese NEV makers, after the withdrawal of financial subsidies for NEVs that had been in place for 13 years. The racetrack has turned even more crowded this year with traditional automakers, both domestic and overseas, accelerating the electrification process, and tech companies entering the autodrome. In February this year, BYD officially released its new NEV model priced at 79,800 yuan (about 11,238 US dollars), the lowest for Chinese-made hybrid models, which presented itself as a competitive opponent for fuel cars at the same price level.

ePaper - Nawaiwaqt