Big automotive brands make a dash to seize electrified future
Major Chinese carmakers are racing to explore opportunities in the booming new energy vehicle sector, which is expected to consolidate their head start in the volume car market.
Changan Automobile is investing more than 80 billion yuan ($12.55 billion) by the end of 2025, primarily in NEVs, said the Chongqing-based carmaker last week.
By then, electric cars and plug-in hybrids are expected to total 1.05 million units, accounting for 35 percent of its sales in the year.
Wang Jun, Changan's president, said the carmaker will launch eight NEV models this year in the Chinese market.
China has been the world's largest market for NEVs since 2015. Most of the deliveries were from local Chinese carmakers, who started earlier than most of their international rivals in the sector.
Electric cars and plug-in hybrids accounted for 41 percent of Chinese carmakers' sales in March, according to statistics from the China Passenger Car Association.
For international brands, including Toyota and Ford, NEVs seized a meager 3 percent in that month in China.
In terms of NEVs, the country's best-selling international carmaker is Volkswagen-yet its NEV deliveries in the first quarter stood at 38,700 units. It was a 67 percent surge from the same period last year, but accounted for less than 40 percent of BYD's sales in March.
In the same month, BYD, backed by Warren Buffett, stopped production of conventional gasoline cars. It is the world's first carmaker to quit the fossil fuel-powered vehicle segment.
Zhang Hong, an official at the China Auto Dealers Association, said BYD's expertise is mainly in NEVs, and its plug-in models have been in short supply. "So, it's not surprising for BYD to make the decision (to quit the gasoline car business)."
China's largest SUV and pickup truck maker, Great Wall Motors, is electrifying its lineup. It expects vehicles with some form of electrification to account for 80 percent of its deliveries by 2025.
Last year, the figure was nearly 11 percent of its total sales. In new overseas markets like Germany, Great Wall Motors is starting with electric cars and plug-in hybrids, instead of conventional gasoline vehicles.
Most international marques are starting their electrification campaign in earnest as well.
Japanese carmaker Honda said on Tuesday that it will introduce a total of 10 new electric vehicle models by 2027 into China.
Globally, Honda aims to launch 30 EV models by 2030. It said the lineup will range from commercial mini-EVs to flagship models. Honda expects its global production to reach 2 million units annually by 2030.
In China, it will build dedicated EV plants in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, and Wuhan, Hubei province, where its two joint ventures are based, respectively.
GM will deliver the Cadillac Lyriq SUV to Chinese customers in the third quarter of this year. It is the first model based on GM's EV platform Ultium.
The carmaker plans to launch more than 30 EVs worldwide using the Ultium platform by 2025. More than 20 of those will hit the Chinese market. By that time, GM expects to have produced 1 million EVs in China.