China is putting massive effort into building its electric vehicle market. In the first seven months of 2018 China delivered 382 000 electric vehicles – mainly local brands such as BYD, Geely and BAIC.
This was an over 80% increase from the same period the previous year, according to the China Passenger Car Alliance, a Shanghai consultancy.
China outpaced the US in 2017 sales of electric vehicles. Tesla sold 103,181 vehicles, while China’s BYD Company sold 108,612. BYD, initially a battery manufacturer, is now the largest manufacturer of electric vehicles. They built their first factory in the US in 2007 and in 2010 created the first electric bus – now selling in Japan.
Local Chinese brands are supported by government subsidies to encourage the Chinese to buy them. Many electric vehicle brand start-ups have emerged in China, including Nio, positioned as a luxury brand. Nio, which plans to issue shares on the New York Stock Exchange, has ambitions to build a self-driving car.
In the meantime, it has started delivering its seven-seater high performance electric SUV, ES8 for which it has received more than 17 000 orders. The vehicle contains key components from Bosch, with which it has a strategic cooperation agreement. Bosch provided Nio with driver assistance systems, control units, sensors and the iBooster electromechanical brake booster.
Bosch has a long history in China, since 1909. Through Wuxi, Bosch has started building the world’s first manufacturing facility for 48-volt batteries for electric cars. It plans to inaugurate the first Bosch iBooster manufacturing site in Asia Pacific, in Nanjing, in November 2018. It also plans to complete the second phase of the automotive electronics plant in Wujin, Changzhou, as well as open a centre for artificial intelligence, this year.
Tesla and BMW are the only other players in the premium segment of the Chinese market. Both sell imported models, the Tesla Model S, X and 3 and the BMW i3.
Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar Land Rover and Audi all have plans to enter the electric vehicle market in China.
Volkswagen has its eye on the mid-price segment of the market.
It is too early to say which brands will be successful but competition is building up.