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GEVDC 2016: cooperation instead of confrontation needed for both old and new players to build future vehicles (II)

SHANGHAI – Electrification, smartness, light weight and sharing are the four trends shaping and driving the auto industry forward. Hosted by d1ev.com, an NEV information service and trade platform, experts and scholars from both traditional automakers and new startups spoke at the Global Electric Vehicle Developer Conference (GEVDC 2016) held on August 5 in Shanghai about future ways of building cars.

To “redefine the automobile,” three round table salons with themes of On road leads to the future: who will get a passport; The eve of breakthrough: technology points worth noticing at present; and Openness, group innovation and sharing: development models for future vehicles were held. Following are highlights of these discussions. – Editor

Future vehicles feature electrification, smartness, sharing and integration

Future vehicles feature electrification and smart communication, and NEV manufacturers should improve efficiency on all relevant technology points just like traditional carmakers, according to Xu Xingyi, president of Shanghai Dajun Dynamic Control Technology Co., Ltd.

They would be personalized ones with standard chassis which integrate various functions, he added.

Zhu Jun, director of SAIC Motor Passenger Vehicle Technology Center, believes it is hard to predict the future. For SAIC Motor, it would still choose to mainly develop PHEV products in the next five years. But since the technologies on first generation of PHEVs are basically mature, the group will drive for BEVs.

SAIC Motor wants to build BEVs that have range of about 300-400 km, charging time of 15 minutes and battery life of about 400,000-600,000 km, according to Zhu.

Cai Wei, CTO of Jingjin Electric Technologies (Beijing) Co., Ltd., talked more on sharing. He believes what divides future vehicles from existing ones are powertrain systems, chassis and other functions on IOV and smartness. As an electric engine and E-drive producer, Jingjin will just focus on doing best of its business and hopes its products can be equipped on all vehicles.

There would be great elevations on HMI technologies equipped on future vehicles, according to Xia Heng, cofounder and president of Xiaopeng Motors Technology Co., Ltd. Besides that, future vehicles can improve on AI, sharing and user experience.

As subsidies phase out and joint venture NEVs come to the market, Cai believes that from a technical perspective, with the global flow of talents, technology barriers will gradually get solved. So there should be no gap which cannot be filled regarding Chinese carmakers when they compete with foreign counterparts.

But the nation’s support on the industry should be more targeted. The subsidy policy has pushed for the NEV market, but also increases low-level competition on quantities, he pointed out.   

Chinese NEV enterprises should improve on core competencies, otherwise their accessory or vehicle enterprises would be in unfavorable positions.

Since Xiaopeng is in the early stage of development, it wants to deliver the best experience to customers. So it uses battery cells developed by Japan and South Korea instead of locally made ones, according to Xia.

He is positive on Chinese NEV enterprises’ future, saying that they can do something unique by better integrating internet resources.

On autonomous driving, all panelists agree there is still a long way to go. In the current stage, it should be better called smart assistant driving, said one panelist. 

 

Openness and sharing will not be 100 percent or available to all

It will not be fully open or total sharing on vehicles and to all, but only to those developers, suppliers and customers who can truly improve customer experience and make riding and driving more comfortable and convenient, according to Wang Chao, founder of CSG Design and Kaiyun Motor. For newcomers on car building, they should think more on how to put customers first and address their needs.

Future vehicles should be developed in an open and delicate way. Both time and Chinese customers call for quality vehicle products, according to Chen Feng, president of Zhejiang Skio Matrix Co., Ltd. Openness and sharing brings prosperity, but still there should be reverence or strict control on quality.  

Tiger Shen, founder and CEO of Zhiche Auto, recalled the way on car building: in the prime age, those vehicles which have better engines and run faster and save more energy stood out.

But in the “post-primitive society,” strong muscles must be combined with smart brains.

For those smart vehicles, they should take main control while driving and be made into platforms, elevating on functions by automatically upgrading software.

Vehicles as industry products will finally go the way of specialization of labor, instead of the outdated model of mass production, added Shen.

As the biggest consumption commodity, a vehicle is a second space besides home and closely related to life and property security. From R&D, raw material supply, manufacturing to sales and aftersales service, it requires quite a long process and strict control. Openness, group innovation and sharing thus should be carried out on relative premises, according to Li Yansong, executive president of Geely New Energy Vehicle Co., Ltd.

Another hot topic is sharing of vehicles. Chen believes customer experience should come first to mass minds. Didi did well on improving customers’ riding experience and alleviating traffic jams. Didi as a representative of new forces shocked the traditional ride service industry, maybe it would be shocked by upstarts.

Li introduced that car sharing is practiced mainly in the model of hourly car rental, but the model is far from successful. All enterprises engaged in the business are in experimental stage and no one can profit in the near future. Its era may come with improvements on infrastructure and laws and regulations.

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