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Chinese EV Start-ups set sights on building its own Tesla

2018-04-28
From BYTON, WM Motors to NIO and Iconiq, Chinese EV start-ups have changed the landscape of the automotive industry. More than 200 plus China-based fledgling companies have raised hundreds of millions of dollars in venture funding and launched electric vehicle prototypes in the past few months, all aiming to copy Tesla’s success in the US.
 
Here blows is the progresses they've made in last two weeks:
 
BYTON:
On April 20th, the China debut of BYTON Concept was held in Beijing, marking the arrival of the next generation of smart mobility. It represents the first time the BYTON Concept has been shown to Chinese consumers, who gave it a warm reception. 
 
 
With its cutting-edge communication, entertainment and health functions, BYTON is not only redefining cars, but redefining life. The 49-inch shared experience display strikes a bold path diver gent from the traditional model of car making, accelerating the arrival of a new age featuring smart connectivity and automatic driving. 
 
On April 20th, 2018 BYTON and FAW signed a strategic cooperation investment framework agreement in Beijing. FAW will join the B-round fundraising of BYTON as a strategic investor. In the future, both sides will cooperate further in product R&D, manufacturing, sales and services.
 
Xiaopeng: Alibaba-backed carmaker seeks $2.7 billion to challenge Tesla
Xiaopeng Motors, which counts Alibaba Group and Foxconn Technology Group among its investors, plans to raise RMB 17 billion ($2.7 billion) in funds this year as the Chinese car startup seeks to take on rivals in the world’s biggest market for electric vehicles. 
 
The company plans to start pre-sales of its first model, the G3 crossover, by the end of this month.  Xiaopeng is among startups striving to become China’s Tesla Inc. and reshape the auto industry as the Asian country promotes new-energy vehicles in an effort to clean up the environment and cut its reliance on oil imports. 
 
 
Xiaopeng supports China’s plan to allow foreign automakers greater ownership in joint ventures as this will spur real competition and ensure the quality of cars made in China. (Bloomberg, Apr. 10)
 
The "1.0 version" production car from XPENG Motors was recently approved by a traffic police department in Guangzhou to obtain China's first license plate for new energy vehicle (NEV) startups. (Cb.com.cn, Apr. 2)
 
NIO:NIO wins 1st place in the prestigious “Best of the Best” Red Dot Design Award for vehicle charging system NIO Power Home. 
First NIO User Service Centre’s construction is complete in Yizhuang, Beijing, China.The User Service Centre will officially open after ES8 deliveries begin.
 
 
WM Motors:
China’s WM Motor Technology, an electric car start-up founded by the former China head of Volvo Car Corporation, plans a RMB 4.3 billion ($685 million) expansion of its factory near Shanghai as it aims to deliver affordable vehicles and get ahead of local competition. 
 
 
The company, set up in 2015, plans to double the annual capacity at the recently commissioned factory in Wenzhou to 200,000 units, according to founder and chairman Freeman Shen Hui. 
 
“We believe we will be the first among our peers to deliver a higher end EV producton a mass scale, by that I mean at least 10,000 units,” Shen said in an interview on the sidelines of the Boao Forum for Asia last week. 
 
The company has already spent RMB 6.7 billion at the plant to build a 100,000 unit-a-year first-phase production facility, which features “smart manufacturing” technology provided by German industrial hardware and software giant Siemens. (South China Morning Post, Apr. 16)
 
Ruichi: Faraday Future-related firm wins bid for land in Guangdong
Guangdong Province-based Ruichi Intelligent Automobile Co, a company that is linked to Faraday Future, which was invested in by LeEco Founder Jia Yueting, won a bid for an industrial site in Guangzhou, capital of South China's Guangdong Province, Chinese news sitefinance.qq.com said on Sunday. 
 
Ruichi spent RMB 364.1 million ($57.8 million) to acquire the land, which is located in the Nansha district in Guangzhou, the provincial capital, and covers about 401,000 square meters, the report said, citing the local service center.
 
The company is expected to bring in electric car assembling projects from world-class vehicle producer to conduct research and development on the technology of the projects and sales of cars and components, the report said.Ruichi is also expected to tie up with the local government to establish a production and trade base for electric cars. (Global Times, Apr. 8)
 
Singulato: Startup Singulato to invest 15 billion yuan in Suzhou, report says
BEIJING -- Chinese electric vehicle and plug-in hybrid startup Singulato Motors plans to invest 15 billion yuan ($2.39 billion) in eastern China's Suzhou over the next five years, the official news agency Xinhua reported on Sunday. 
 
A partnership between the company and the Suzhou city government covers r&d, production and industrial investment in the EV and plug-in hybrid industry, according to Xinhua, which said the announcement was made on Saturday.
 
Singulato Motors will set up a global r&d center in the city and wil lemploy about 2,000 to 3,000 researchers in next five years to focus on advanced technologies such as autonomous driving.
 
The two sides will also establish an industrial investment fund worth 10billion yuan to nurture more startups in the sector, Xinhua added.
 
Singulato Motors, established in December 2014, covers businesses including EVs and plug-in hybrids, intelligent vehicle systems and car networking services based on big data and cloud computing, according to its website.
 
China began promoting EVs in 2009 and wants to become a dominant global producer as it bids to curb vehicle emissions, boost energy security and promote high-tech industries.
 
AIWAYS: AIWAYS to roll out 15 new models based on MAS platform
AIWAYS, one of China's Internet-based EV startup, released its first A-class pure electric SUV, the U5 ION at its strategy-releasing conference on Apr. 16. The new model is based on the MAS platform, which will support at least 15 new models, covering SUV, sedan, MPV and pickup. In addition, the U5 ION will roll off the production line at the end of this year and hit the market next year. 
 
 
At the conference, Gu Feng, co-founder and CEO of AIWAYS stated that the startup is slated to release one new model every six to eight months. The SUV based onthe MAS platform will be launched next year, while a sports car model based on GES platform will be showcased at Auto China 2018.
 
MAS platform can be applicable to various driving modes. Base on newly designed body, chassis technology and advanced small integrated motor, the vehicle's driving modes can flexibly meet the agile layouts of front main drive, rear main drive and four-wheel drive.
 
According to different electric motor and drive layout programs, the platform can help models sprint from 0-100km/h in 5s to 10s. (Gasgoo,April 17,2018)
 
Youxia: Youxia Motors announces RMB 5 billion B-round funding
Youxia Motors, one of China's EV startup, announced the completion of RMB 5 billion B-round funding on Mar. 31, which was jointly invested by 12 venture capital institutions, including Qianhai Mergers and Acquisition Funds, SINOEP and China Fortune Ocean.
 
 
This is the first time for Youxia to release its whole financing information to the public. In October, 2017, it closed RMB 1.22 billion A-round funding, led by avariety of venture capital institutions, such as Xinhua Silk Road Fund. With the two-round funding, Youxia now has received a total investment of RMB 6.22 billion and its entire valuation totaled RMB 12.2 billion.
 
Till now, Youxia has a staff of 500 employees, who once served at famous auto makers and internet companies, such as BMW, GM. (Gasgoo,April 3rd,2018)
 
Dearcc: Dearcc to debut upgraded EV 10 at Auto China 2018
Dearcc, one of China's fledgling EV startups, will debut an upgraded model of the Dearcc EV10 on Apr. 25 at Auto China 2018. The new model's combined range will be uplifted to 270km, which is 115km longer than that of its existing model. (Gasgoo,April 16,2018)
 
 
In the end
Hardly a day passes in 2018 without news of another electric vehicle start-up, and many of them are backed by technology giants with deep pockets. It is a fact that automotive industry is undergoing a major change – electric powertrain, together with connected autonomous driving technology that could turn the conventional automotive industry upside down.
 
And the conventional auto makers also aren’t just sitting idly, instead they’re adapting fast. Automakers have the scale and financial wherewithal to fund their own software development. In fact, the big automotive players like Daimler, BMW, VW, GM, Ford, Toyota and Nissan all have made investments to take action right now. 
 
“Many say carmakers have no future, and that they will become commodity producers, because Google, Apple, Microsoft or Tesla will take the lead in the automotive business in the future. We don’t want to give them the space to do that,”Toyota’s Executive Vice President Didier Leroy told a small group of reporters at the company’s Tokyo HQ last year. “Do you believe we will just open the door and say go ahead? No, we won’t let them come inside like that.” 
 
While China today is reminiscent of Detroit in the early 20th century ,with a bunch of start-ups with limited automotive experiences arriving on the scene, the government is expected to phase out subsidies from2020, potentially crushing the start-ups’ survival rate. 
 
Therefore, it is quite possible that once the tide recedes, many of the EV startups we see today would disappear from the stage. The surviving few would be the niche players with genuine potential.
 
*From AutoChina