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The 7th Global NEV Conference: redefining the automobile

BEIJING – The 7th Global NEV Conference, organized by d1ev.com, was held on December 17 here. Executives from new energy vehicle manufacturers, suppliers and tech companies shared their ideas on the future development of China’s smart EV industry, new business models and market trends.

Pang Yicheng, chairman of Beijing Zhidian Hudong Group, said in his opening speech that with the heavy smog casting over Beijing while the conference was in session, it has become a pressing issue for people in the industry to speed up their efforts on EVs and emissions reduction. He urged them to work even harder in order to prevent our children from wearing masks in the future. Pang also reviewed the EV industry progress over the past year through four major points: subsidy fraud, policy and regulations, emergence of new players and the LeEco incident. In his opinion, people in the EV industry should be working hard to gain development in market shares and technologies instead of relying just on subsidies. Pang is optimistic toward the policy and regulations that would be issued in the future; he believed that the government would grow more sophisticated and mature along with the developing market, and individuals need to be self-disciplined and supervised by the government, customers and the media. He concluded that it is the duty and responsibility of industrialists to make their businesses grow, the government’s role is to support their endeavors with the necessary measures. The market would grow when all stakeholders grow.

In the following session, Richard Foster, a retired director from McKinsey & Co., reviewed the progress of the EV market and its new development. He pointed out that according to the business related data collected in the last few decades, not many enterprises survived competition. Those who remained alive depended on rapid adaption to market demands. As for the EV market, he indicated that in the future, instead of multi-billion dollar enterprises taking the lead, the market would most likely be commanded by the joining forces of many small businesses, which are quick to adapt to market demands. The market would only take those who are willing to change.

Zheng Gang, president of BAIC BJEV, the country’s leading battery EV manufacturer, reviewed the progress of his company in what he calls the “three steps to the future.” BAIC BJEV started by new energy vehicle R&D, but later had developed different tactics, testing the waters in time-share rental, charging stations, battery swapping, used car exchange and eventually making network service platform of its own, which had shown its expectation of the future. In Zheng’s opinion, the future market will be customer-oriented and OEM domination that had lasted hundreds of years might be replaced by new business models directed by NEVs. BAIC BJEV would be giving its best effort to support this new market way by using crowd innovation.

Zhao Wei, president of China Fortune Land Development Co., Ltd. (CFLD), Lin Xinzheng, chairman of Xingyin Fund Management Co., Ltd., Li Lingyun, chairman of Jiabo Investment Co., Ltd., and Zhang Junyi, partner of NextEV Capital, discussed and shared their experience in NEV investment. They agreed that the NEV market is still full of potential and is facing a massive revolution in the near future. On the other hand, all the investors claimed to be swamped with various projects that were not so much different. A thoroughly made survey would help the investors to find the diamonds in the rough, with the help of regulations. The proper project would be put to market. In the meantime, the investors had agreed that although the market has progressed, the financial services currently provided by dealers and other institutions are still inadequate, which had stalled businesses from moving forward. To help with the matter, investors and institutions should make proper plans for the future, with the help of thorough market surveys and develop proper financial products that meet end-user demand.

During the breakout sessions in the afternoon, more opinions and ideas were shared.

Fu Qiang, founder of Aichi EV, Paul Lin, vice president of Yudo Auto, Wang Guangyu, general manager of parts marketing under the JAC Passenger Vehicle Sales Co., Hong Bin, deputy director of the Venucia Division of Dongfeng-Nissan, Li Yansong, executive director of Geely NEV Sales Co., Wang Chaoyun, president of Hawtai NEV Group, Xu Xingyi, president of Dajun Tech, Jin Weimin, vice president of Zhidou, Lu Qun, chairman of CH-Auto Technology, Dr. Daniel Kirchert, COO of Future Mobility Corp., Henry Xia, founder and president of Xiaopeng Motors, and Wei Jun, chairman of Youxia Motors, shared their thoughts and ideas at the “Passenger Vehicles: Divide and Conquer” breakout sessions. They all agreed that China’s EV industry had moved on from the phase of putting battery on a car. Right now the individuals are facing the challenge of customers being younger and more intelligent, and their demands from the car are harder and more complex to meet, which in turn, urges the manufacturers and dealers to change their strategies. More and more individuals are using fashionable ways to present their services, and extended their business to rental and used cars. The manufacturers have started to meet that demand by making their cars smarter. In the meantime, they all indicated that they are to make vehicles with Chinese characteristics meeting Chinese consumer demand, rather than just simply “cut and paste” from foreign designs.

At the “Power Batteries: Global Competition and the Next Generation Tech” breakout session, Li Shijiang, president of Do-Fluoride (Jiao Zuo) New Energy Technology Co., Ltd., Guo Yongsheng, R&D manager from Contemporary Amperex Technology Co., Ltd. (CATL), Rao Mumin, deputy director of Shenzhen OptimumNano Energy Co., Ltd., Feng Xiao, president of Jiangsu Phylion Battery Co., Ltd., Hong Bin, deputy director of the Venucia Division of Dongfeng-Nissan, Liao Zhenbo, vice president of BAK Battery, Deng Lunhao, vice president of Zhuoneng New Energy, joined the discussion on the current development of power batteries. The speakers reviewed the current developments and future movements on lithium phosphate, lithium titanate and solid state lithium batteries in scientific aspects. In later group discussion, these professionals pointed out that Chinese R&D on power battery technology is in the lead globally, they are also making significant progress in solar energy research as well. But infrastructure construction, fast-charging capabilities are still the main issues holding back development. They all agreed that new tech and new materials would be presented in the next few years, which would make significant improvement on current research. They are enthusiastic and hopeful towards the future power battery development.

Wang Yang, CEO of yiduyongche.com, Tang Peng, co-founder and CTO of yongche.com, Yang Yang, CEO of feezu.cn, Rong Hui, vice president of Beijing Automotive Technology Center, Jiang Tao, general manager of Zotye New Energy Vehicle, Andrew Tan, COO of shouqiev.com, Li Jia, CEO of bmkp.cn, Zhou Jun, vice president of baojia.com, Zhang Haiying, president of dstzc.com and Lei Xing, chief editor of China Automotive Review, joined the discussion on smart vehicles and sharing. Xing reviewed that Daimler’s Car2Go had recently given six assumptions toward the future of smart car sharing. First, free-floating car sharing is at the beginning of its development; Second, car sharing is about to experience huge growth: a recent study by Frost & Sullivan predicts that the number of car sharing users worldwide will increase five-fold from the current 7.9 million to 36.7 million by 2025; Third, the cities of the world need free-floating car sharing; Fourth, the future of car sharing is electric; Fifth, car sharing technology will enable new services; and sixth, autonomous driving will halve the size of car sharing fleets worldwide. The guests went through the progress of car-sharing and online taxi hailing business from different aspects; later at the discussion, they expressed their concerns about the business not reaching its expected level, and many hold-backs had been presented along the way. When asked about their opinions and expectations towards the future about car-sharing, they had all agreed that in order to make car-sharing thrive, further cost reduction is necessary, but further investment could be considered under special circumstances. As for the low recognition, the guests said like all the new elements that were presented to the public, it takes time to grow, customers will become less critical with open mind and in time, demand will grow. Also, individuals should offer services that meet the demands from the customers, and be supervised and supported by policies and regulations.

All the participants have agreed that the industry is moving toward a future that is clean, intelligent and highly effective. The upcoming new technologies and new business models will make significant changes to our lives. Manufacturers need to be brave and open minded for the future, and quick at adapting to the market.

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