China is making tracks in green technology. On the national level, the country has committed to cap greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, and saw a total of USD 83 billion poured into renewable energy in 2014. It’s also the world’s largest market for electric vehicles, according to a forecast from the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM), which estimated that Chinese consumers bought up to 250,000 electric and hybrid vehicles in 2015. EV sales this year were boosted by government subsidies and tax breaks for manufacturers, as well as driving restrictions on gas-powered vehicles in cities. Shifting the attention away from Faraday’s future-forward concept car for a moment, here are some notable Chinese EV manufacturers who are shaping the industry.
BYD, which stands for Build Your Dreams, is currently the biggest electric car maker in China, helped by the success of its plug-in hybrid ‘Qin’ sedan. BYD, which also produces solar panels and batteries, mass-produces passenger vehicles and public transport vehicles. Its first pure electric bus was completed back in 2010 and it is still selling vehicles for public transport all over the world. In March, BYD struck a deal with Uber to test a fleet of electric cars for its drivers in Chicago and Chile, and launched its first 100% electric taxi fleet in Santiago last month – powered by its e6 all electric hatchback. BYD sold more electric vehicles in 2015 than Tesla did, with 50,797 units sold as of the end of November, while Tesla sold just over 50,000 in the same period.
The Le Supercar is being developed by LeTV, a Netflix-like video streaming platform in China. This project was conceived by CEO Jia Yueting, who also funded Faraday Futures (LeTV and Faraday announced a strategic partnership agreement yesterday). LeTV is ambitiously making strides into the EV realm, poaching talent from Tesla and GM, and establishing a partnership with Aston Martin. It has also invested in Dian Zhuang, a company that sets up charging stations and smart charging equipment. LeTV has already released a smart car UI system called LeUIAuto, with ambitions to build “a perfect internet car ecosystem”, according to its CEO’s Weibo. In October, LeTV announced that it had completed the testing of its first EV in the US, the Mule Car, with plans to debut it at the 2016 Beijing Auto Show in April.
Kandi started out as a gas-powered ATV and go-kart maker, but after establishing a joint venture with Geely (known as the company that bought Volvo) to make electric cars, it has established itself as a major EV manufacturer in China. Previously, Kandi cars were only available for short-term rental from automated multilevel garages, which earned them the nickname “Kandi Machines”, but Kandi has since started retailing its EVs to customers in April. Kandi is working with Geely, ZTE, Uber and Alibaba to promote connected electric cars through a strategic partnership. These small electric vehicles have a large potential market in Chinese cities because of the focus on reducing air pollution and the already-crowded roads in many urban areas.
BAIC is a state-owned automotive maker that makes Hyundai and Mercedes cars for the Chinese market. It started producing electric EVs in 2009 under its affiliate Beijing Electric Vehicle Co. It established a new EV research and development center in Silicon Valley in August. BAIC’s electric cars served as the official vehicles for the APEC summit in Beijing in 2014. BAIC is designing a concept electric vehicle with US company Atieva, which is financially backed by BAIC and Jia Yueting, CEO of LeTV. The new concept vehicle will be released at the 2016 Beijing Auto Show in April.
(All photos from the car companies’ websites.)