automotive


2022-05-17

China’s Lockdowns Erode Car Production and Sales, May Reduce Global Car Sales by 80 million units in 2022

Due to the implementation of lockdowns and dynamic zero-COVID in Shanghai and other locations in China, a large number of automotive supply chain manufacturers have been idle since March and the implementation of passive measures in many locales has led to a decline in both production and sales. A large number of automotive companies are clustered in Shanghai and it is the hub of the entire Chinese automotive industry. Many foreign automotive companies, Tier 1 suppliers, important parts and components headquarters, production bases, and distribution centers are located here, such as Tesla’s Shanghai plant.

This also includes an important state-owned automotive company, SAIC Motor and all its subsidiary automotive factories and wide network of suppliers. The total production capacity of Shanghai and Jilin accounts for approximately 20% of the whole of China. The production volume of major automakers in Shanghai in April 2022 will drop by 75% compared with March, while the production volume of major joint venture automakers in Changchun (Jilin Province) will drop by 54%. The drops in these two regions were sharper than the 38% decline in China as a whole. Recently, several districts in Beijing have been locked down. The impact of this on sales depends on the duration of lockdown. BAIC Motor, Beijing Benz, and Beijing Hyundai are located in Beijing and these companies will bear the brunt of these lockdowns if they are required to suspend operations.

Further discussing the three major effects of this wave of lockdowns, first, the lockdowns will disrupt the pace of new car launches in spring. Second, the export plans of automotive companies will be impeded, which will slow the expansion of Chinese car companies into overseas markets. Third, there is a risk of stagnant demand. The stagnation of demand can be viewed from several perspectives.

First, is the closure of traditional distribution channel car dealerships due to the decrease in orders. According to China Automobile Dealers Association statistics, more than 20% of automobile dealers in China have closed down, which hinders the car purchase process. In addition, since automobile pricing continues to rise due to a number of environmental factors, if delivery is continuously delayed or the acceptance of car orders is suspended, there is a risk of consumption shrinking as time goes on. Third, the negative impact of lockdowns on economic activities, employment, and salary income, coupled with global inflation, will bring uncertainty to demand in China’s automotive market in the second half of 2022.

The global auto market is experiencing a very unstable period. The lingering impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the persisting shortage of semiconductor chips, and the Ukrainian-Russian war has caused chaos in the supply chain in Europe and other regions and it seems the war will last longer than expected. Many automotive plants are still unable to operate smoothly.  Facing sustained production reduction or the transfer of production capacity, coupled with China’s lockdown and zero-COVID policies which began in March, global car sales in 1Q22 amounted to only 19.6 million units, down 7% from the same period in 2021.

Although the auto industry accounts for the majority of the work resumption whitelist announced by Shanghai in April, restoring production capacity is expected to take some time as manpower and transportation capacity are still limited and sales may still decline or remain low. Therefore, after taking into account the regional consideration of the Chinese market in 2Q22, sales volume is expected to be 17.7 million units and annual sales volume is revised downward to 80 million units, an annual decline of 1.3%. This forecast is based on the assumption of a supply turnaround leading to rebounding sales in the second half of 2022, so changes in various environmental factors will strongly affect the revision of future expectations.

(Image credit: Pixabay)

2022-05-16

Bucking Trends NEV Market Grew in 1Q22 with Global Sales Exceeding 2 Million Units, Says TrendForce

According to TrendForce data, total sales of new energy vehicles (NEVs including battery electric vehicles, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, and fuel cell vehicles) in 1Q22 was 2.004 million units, an annual growth rate of 80%. Battery electric vehicles (BEV) demonstrated the strongest growth with sales reaching 1.508 million units. Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) sold 493,000 units. Growth in NEV sales did not come easy, as global auto market sales (regardless of powertrain type) fell by 7% YoY in 1Q22 due to factors such as the chip shortage, Russian-Ukrainian war, and China’s pandemic lockdown and prevention measures.

In terms of BEV brands, Tesla’s sales in 1Q22 exceeded 310,000 units, ranking first with a market share of 20.5%. Chinese automaker BYD ranked second with 143,000 units and a market share of 9.5%. BYD announced in April that it would stop producing fossil-fueled vehicles and transform fully into a NEV manufacturer. Its BEV sales rose sharply by 271% in 1Q22 compared to the same period last year. Wuling, a subsidiary of SAIC-GM, has been ranked second since the launch of the Wuling Hongguang MINI in 2020 but dropped to third place in 1Q22. The main contributor to this was the multitude of models positioned as miniature and low-priced launched in the past year such as the Chery Ant and Changan Benben. As similar products arrived on the market, sales competition hindered growth.

In terms of PHEVs, BYD once again broke its quarterly sales record. Sales volume in 1Q22 reached 142,000 units, with a market share of 28.8%. As more PHEV models gradually appear in the market, it has become increasingly more difficult to capture a large market share. It is worth noting that the sales volume of PHEVs in the European market was lower in 1Q22 both when compared with the same period last year and when compared to 4Q21, affected the performance of some European brands.

TrendForce expects that most automakers will adopt a strategy of prioritizing the production of EVs. Therefore, continued growth in the sale of NEVs is expected in 2022. However, automakers will be under greater cost pressure this year. In particular, the Russian-Ukrainian war has greatly increased the cost of power batteries. This has caused automakers to increase their prices. Some countries including China will withdraw car purchase subsidies which dampens the market for low-priced mini-cars that previously supported the rapid growth of NEVs. Factors such as global inflation will become variables in the future growth momentum of NEVs.

2021-07-23

An Overview of Emerging Chinese NEV Manufacturers with European Ambitions

As the pace of electrification accelerates in the global automotive market, and various governments worldwide implement subsidy policies that encourage consumer EV purchases, sales of new energy vehicles(NEV, which includes BEV/PHEV/FCV)are continuing to rise as well. NEV sales for 2021 are projected to reach 4.35 million units, a 49% increase YoY.

Due to the vast scale of the Chinese market, as well as domestic policies favorable for the growth of BEV/PHEV/FCV, various NEV brands have quickly emerged in China in recent years, such as BYD Auto, Aion(formerly GAC NE), and BAIC BJEV. At the market’s peak, NEV manufacturers in China once numbered in the hundreds, although that number has since dwindled somewhat, as the intense competition resulted in declining sales and market shares for many automakers, including BAIC and JAC.

Four rising stars among emerging NEV manufacturers in China include NIO, XPeng, Lixian(or Li Auto), and Weltmeister, all of which have been shipping tens of thousands of mass production vehicles each year. In particular, while NIO, XPeng, and Lixiang registered significant growths in the past few years, Weltmeister also ranked number two in terms of sales in 2019, though it fell to fourth place in 2020 as it delivered fewer vehicles compared to the top three competitors last year.


In light of the aforementioned four automakers’ current expansions, TrendForce has summarized several key aspects of their growths, including the following:

1. Autonomous Driving Technologies: Autonomous driving is not only part and parcel of these automakers’ core competencies but also a reflection of what consumers and investors expect of the automotive industry. In pursuing advanced autonomous driving technologies, the four automakers have been adopting increasingly powerful processors and computing platforms, with Nvidia being the most common partner among emerging NEV manufacturers. Remarkably, XPeng stands out as the only player making a noticeable effort to develop in-house chips.

2. LiDAR: LiDAR is integrated into an increasing number of vehicles in response to the growing demand for advanced self-driving functionalities. Although LiDAR remains out of reach for vehicles in certain price segments, autonomous driving sensors including LiDAR are no longer limited to flagship models since new NEV models’ E/E architectures are expected to be compatible with OTA updates.

LiDAR sensor demand from NEV manufacturers has significantly increased because only by pre-installing  hardware ahead of time in their vehicles can automakers enable autonomous driving functionalities as a paid subscription service through OTA updates later on.

3. Battery-swapping: Battery-swapping are relatively attractive for the Chinese NEV industry for several reasons: First, battery-swappable vehicles are excluded from China’s NEV subsidy limits*; second, automakers can now afford to lower the retail price of vehicles by turning batteries into a subscription service; finally, it’s much convenience for driver because battery swapping is faster than battery charging.

For instance, NIO’s entire NEV lineup is compatible with both battery charging and battery swapping. NIO has been pushing its BaaS(battery as a service)and  second-gen battery swap stations since 2020. On the other hand, Weltmeister and XPeng are also making their respective battery-swapping strategies.

4. Capacity Expansion and Overseas Strategies: The aforementioned four automakers all place a heavy emphasis on both expanding their production capacities and growing their overseas market shares. Their capacity expansion efforts include building in-house production lines, acquiring other facilities, or jointly funding automotive production with OEMs/ODMs. Regarding overseas expansion, their primary destination is the European market, which is relatively favorable to NEVs.

For instance, NIO and XPeng choose Norway as their first target market in Europe. However, while the European automotive market is conducive to the growth of NEVs in terms of both policies and cultures, competition among automakers is also correspondingly intense. In addition, most European countries prefer either domestic brands or other European brands. Therefore, Chinese automakers must prioritize gaining consumer trust via establishing a trustworthy brand image.

*China’s subsidies for NEV purchases are restricted to NEVs with a retail price of CN¥300,000 and under. However, NEVs with swappable batteries do not fall under this restriction.

(Cover image source: Unsplash)

2021-06-23

NEV Sales for 2021 Projected to Reach 4.35 Million Units, While IoT/Consumer Electronics Vendors Attempt to Enter NEV Market, Says TrendForce

As the pace of electrification accelerates in the global automotive market, and various governments worldwide implement subsidy policies that encourage consumer EV purchases, sales of new energy vehicles (NEV, which includes both BEV and PHEV) are continuing to rise as well, according to TrendForce’s latest investigations. NEV sales for 2021 are projected to reach 4.35 million units, a 49% increase YoY.

TrendForce indicates that electrification, smartization, and automation are the three key determinants of the ongoing transformation taking place in the automotive industry. Guided by these three determinants, not only are the strategies, business models, and competitions of automakers transforming, but the automotive supply chain is also changing and expanding. Upstream component suppliers and downstream manufacturers alike are now operating in accordance with new paradigms.

High potential for NEV growth entices emerging competitors to enter the market

Now that the competition between traditional and emerging automakers in the NEV market is gradually intensifying, traditional automakers have begun releasing BEVs that are based on purely electric platforms rather than preexisting ICE vehicles. However, for the vast majority of mainstream automakers, NEV sales account for less than 10% of their total car sales. These automakers are therefore placing a top priority on expanding the lineup and sales volume of their NEV models. Emerging automakers, on the other hand, are instead focusing on expanding their production capacities, and Tesla as well as Chinese brands (including NIO and XPeng) have made their respective capacity expansion plans.

NEV sales currently account for only 5% of total automotive sales. As such, not only does the NEV market still have high potential for growth, but this potential has also attracted new players, which are mostly consumer electronics and IoT vendors such as Xiaomi and OPPO, to enter the market. Given their lack of competencies in developing and manufacturing whole vehicles, these companies are instead acquiring existing automakers or utilizing ODM services. Therefore, automotive ODM services are likely to ramp up going forward, while automakers and ODMs will continue building factories via joint ventures, sharing their technologies, and jointly developing NEV models.

2021-06-07

Instant Depreciation for New Cars? OTA Update Means Cars Are No Longer Negative Assets for Drivers

As software and hardware technologies improve in the automotive industry, cars now have an increasing number of smart features in response to the demand for user friendliness; for instance, the Car2Home ecosystem was created as a natural extension of V2X (vehicle-to-everything) technology. Advances in automotive systems and technologies, however, do little to assuage prospective car buyers’ fears of instant depreciation and maintenance fees, which are both justified and frequently parroted by existing owners.

Recent years, however, have seen the emergence of a new technology known as OTA (over-the-air) that can at least address car buyers’ maintenance-related worries. Automakers can fix software issues in the car with OTA updates, thus saving the driver the time and effort it takes to perform a factory maintenance. Simply put, OTA is a cloud-based service that allows automakers to perform a host of actions, including software/firmware updates, OS upgrade, issue fixing, and security patches, through a cloud-network-car connection.

As such, OTA technologies are highly dependent on data encryption, decryption, and transmission, meaning OTA services involve not only software and cloud services vendors, but also cybersecurity companies as well. According to TrendForce’s investigations, about 72% of new cars sold in 2025 will be OTA-enabled vehicles thanks to advancements in V2X, automotive electronic/electrical architectures, and intra-vehicle communications.

OTA pioneer Tesla kicked off its OTA strategies in 2012

Tesla is perhaps the impetus responsible for the surge in OTA viability in the automotive industry. Elon Musk believes that cars should be appreciated, as opposed to depreciating, assets for the consumer. As part of that belief, all Tesla models are capable of OTA updates of software and firmware, reflected in Tesla’s revenues from “service and other”, which saw yearly growths from 2016 to 2020 (Tesla’s 2020 earnings from “service and other” alone surpassed US$2.4 billion). Therefore, Tesla’s sales volume will remain the key to the market size and penetration rate of OTA technology.

Other automakers, such as BMW, Mercedes-Benz, GM, Ford, Toyota, and Volkswagen, also began rolling out OTA updates in their models from 2015 to 2020, although it wasn’t until the year 2020 did most of these companies perform OTA updates on any appreciable scale. Furthermore, most OTA updates were software updates as opposed to firmware updates (for ADAS and powertrain functionalities), since issuing firmware OTA updates still remains a major issue for automakers at the moment.

TrendForce also indicates that, should automakers wish to improve automotive functionalities with OTA updates, they would need to completely overhaul their cars’ electronic and electrical architectures. In this light, one of the prerequisites of performing functional OTA updates is the availability of compatible hardware in cars.

For instance, in order to activate LiDAR functionality, automakers must first equip a car with LiDAR hardware. Once self-driving technology matures to the point when it is deemed appropriate to be enabled on a given car, then automakers can activate the necessary LiDAR functionality with OTA updates.

Of course, all of this hinges on whether automakers are willing to bear the cost of preemptively equipping their cars with the necessary hardware, as well as whether they have any faith in the success of new services/functions to be activated by OTA in the future. Most importantly, however, if consumers were uninterested in these services and functions, then automakers would have no way of recouping their preemptive investments in the aforementioned hardware.

On the whole, despite most automakers’ planned to roll out the capability of OTA updates to their vehicles, they still face bottlenecks in performing OTA updates safely and providing useful upgrades for users. Only by overcoming these hurdles will automakers effectively improve the driving experience and convince car owners as well as prospective buyers that OTA is a worthy investment.

(Cover imgae source: Pixabay)

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