New energy vehicles on the westward march: Tesla kills the Quartet, new forces hold high the flag, and old players run fast

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Text / Deng Xiaoxuan

Source/Financial Story (ID: cjgshui)

Checking whether the new energy vehicle locks on each deck are fixed one by one, and ensuring that each vehicle will not have any bumps on board, is the most important job for the seafarer during this voyage.

Lao Yu’s voyage was completed on a ro-ro. The so-called ro-ro wheel is a huge maritime transport ship with a height of more than ten stories, which is mainly used to transport automobiles; in this ro-ro wheel, 8,000 new energy vehicles are fixed.

After the staff accurately drove the 8,000 vehicles to their respective cabins in Shanghai Port, the voyage began. The voyage exceeded 20,000 kilometers and the destination was the largest car port in Europe, the Belgian port of Antwerp. This is an important route for the export of new energy vehicles in China. At the departure station of Shanghai Port, new energy vehicles from SAIC and Tesla sail to the world from here.

The popularity of car exports has led Lao Yu to spend more and more voyages on ro-ro recently.

From January to July 2022, the total export volume of domestic automobiles will be 1.507 million, making it the second largest automobile exporter after Japan; the export of new energy vehicles is even more blowout, and the total export volume of domestic new energy vehicles during the same period has reached 441,100 vehicles, double the same period in 2021.

In addition to Shanghai Port, Guangzhou Port, Shandong Port Yantai Port and other auto export ports, trailers loaded with new energy vehicles are lined up in long queues, waiting to be loaded to sea. In the first half of 2022, the export volume of new energy vehicles in Guangzhou Port increased by 9 times compared with the same period last year; during the same period, the export volume of vehicles in Guangzhou Port increased by 1.1 times compared with the same period last year.

Entering the car companies one after another. Four years ago, SAIC set its sights on the big cake of the overseas market, and ate the first wave of dividends from new energy going overseas; two years ago, a new force in car manufacturing jumped up: clamoring for the establishment of an overseas team and research on going overseas. Regionally, the models for overseas markets are carefully placed, hoping to expand the global market of “Xingchenhai” while taking into account the domestic involution market.

But an inconspicuous negative news is hidden in the prosperity of new energy vehicles.

In November 2021, Gu Hongdi, vice chairman and president of Xiaopeng Motors, looked forward to the overseas market, saying that half of the company’s future deliveries will come from China and half from overseas; but within half a year, it was revealed that Xiaopeng went overseas. Many middle and high-level executives in the business have resigned one after another; compared to the high profile when it was announced to go overseas, Xiaopeng’s overseas sales are now almost impossible to find on the Internet.

What is the real situation of new energy vehicle brands going overseas? Does the attractiveness of overseas markets really have such great appeal?

Europe’s reputation, Southeast Asia’s volume

Liu Huanqian settled in Bangkok at the end of 2019. During the 1 year I came to Bangkok, most of the cars I could see on the street were Japanese fuel vehicles, and I could hardly find any electric vehicles.

This is not surprising at all. According to Marklines data, in 2020, only 1,056 electric vehicles were sold in Thailand, accounting for less than one thousandth of the national car sales; among the production capacity of OEMs in Thailand, Japanese cars accounted for more than 80%. It is not that Japanese brands have not implemented new energy vehicles, but have implemented a hybrid technology route. The price of hybrid models is higher than that of fuel vehicles, which has made it difficult for Japanese companies to promote new energy vehicles in Thailand.

Two years later, earth-shaking changes have taken place. Not only are new energy vehicles more and more common, but domestic new energy vehicle brands can be seen everywhere in Bangkok. Siam Square in the center of Bangkok, where the land is precious, the Great Wall exhibition hall and the charging station are at the Gold C position; at the Bangkok Motor Show, MG Haojue and the new force Nezha successively released new models.

In Thailand, domestic new energy has become the “hidden champion”.

The champion refers to the volume of domestic new energy vehicles in Thailand. In July, the domestic export of new energy vehicles to Thailand was 12,734, making it the most rapid area for domestic new energy vehicles to go overseas; this is not a special situation in individual months. From January to July 2022, a total of 51,347 new energy vehicles were exported to Thailand. , an increase of 244% year-on-year, becoming the second largest exporter of new energy vehicles in China after Belgium.

It is called stealth because Thailand is not a high-profile exporter of new energy vehicles.

Only a small number of traditional car companies have entered Thailand. According to the survey data of Yiou Automobile, two Chinese car companies, Great Wall and SAIC, monopolize the electric vehicle market in Thailand, accounting for 70% of the share.

Only BYD and Nezha, a new car maker, have recently announced their new entry into the Thai market. Even Tesla has not officially announced its entry into the blue ocean market in Thailand.

Not only Thailand, but from January to July 2022, the Philippines, which ranks sixth in the domestic export of new energy vehicles, also has “invisible” characteristics. Only traditional car companies such as BYD, Haima and Geely are targeting the passenger car market in this market.

In contrast to the low-key situation in Southeast Asia, car companies are bustling in Europe, where new forces gather in a high-profile manner.

The car companies entering Europe are fanatical. Regardless of the old and new forces, they will get together and regard Europe as a place to go to sea. As of July 2022, new energy vehicles exported to Europe accounted for half of all new energy vehicle exports. Whether it is new forces such as Weilai, Xiaopeng, Aiways, or traditional car companies such as BYD, Hongqi, SAIC, and Lantu, they have not given up on the European continent without exception.

The latest news is that Li Bin, the founder of Weilai, has traveled to Berlin, Germany to prepare for a press conference on October 8-in a selfie, he showed an inevitable smile.

The first stop for car companies to get together in Europe is the fiercely competitive Norway. Xiaopeng, Weilai, BYD Tang EV, Hongqi E-HS9, Lantu, etc., many new and old forces went overseas, and their representative models were listed in this country similar to Yunnan Province.

How competitive is Norway? As of June 2022, the share of EV registrations of Chinese brands in Norway is 10.6%, which means that on the streets of Norway, there is an average of one Chinese new energy vehicle in every 10 EVs. Although the export volume of new energy vehicles from China to Norway did not enter the top 10, most of the new energy vehicles that landed in Belgium were destined for Norway.

To sum up, at present, domestic new energy vehicles have formed such an export pattern: European car companies gather, and Southeast Asia runs. Why does this happen?

First, the Southeast Asian market has only incremental volume, not value, but Europe is the exact opposite. According to the statistics of the China Passenger Transport Association, the average price of new energy vehicles exported to Thailand in 2022 is only US$2,000, which is equivalent to 14,000 yuan, corresponding to small new energy vehicles; while the average price of new energy vehicles exported to Belgium will reach 29,000. US dollars, or 205,000 yuan.

The unit price is 14.6 times different, and the value can be clearly distinguished, which is in line with the economic conditions of Southeast Asia and Europe and the spending power of potential consumers.

Looking at the models developed by the old and new forces today, the new forces generally focus on models with more than 150,000 models, and their own brand strategy is also aimed at mid-to-high-end users; while traditional car companies have a wealth of models at different price points, it is not that the new forces do not choose to enter. The Southeast Asian market, but the constraints of the model and brand strategy have prevented it from exporting cars to Southeast Asian countries.

Second, car companies entering Europe only need to focus on “selling cars” for the time being; Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Norway, Italy, Sweden, Spain and the Netherlands are the eight European countries. The penetration rate has reached 21%. In the face of the high penetration rate and demand for new energy vehicles, car companies only need to focus on selling cars for the time being.

And to enter Southeast Asia, it is necessary to invest energy in infrastructure. At present, the penetration rate of automobiles in the whole ASEAN is less than 20%, and the penetration rate of new energy vehicles is even lower; Thailand, which exports the most new energy vehicles, has only about 900 charging stations in the country, and the supporting facilities for electric vehicles are very lacking. Construction is still in its infancy, and the starting market not only needs to invest in cars, but also requires car companies to increase spending on charging equipment in new countries.

Southeast Asia is not a must for new forces for the time being; at least not for new forces that have not yet made small cars.

Third, the European and American markets are the highlands of automobile consumption and a must for building a global brand reputation. Once won, they can go down the river and have a dimensionality-reducing blow to the global market.

For new forces that need capital attention, popularity is related to financing. The formation of brand awareness in the highly competitive Europe also means financing.

Tesla, which cannot be avoided, buys new forces and invades traditional car companies

The United States is not the export destination of China’s new energy vehicles; on the contrary, Tesla with American genes has the smoothest way of exporting new energy vehicles in China, accounting for the bulk of China’s new energy vehicle exports.

From January to July 2022, the export volume of domestic Teslas is 116,800 units, accounting for 26.55% of China’s export of new energy vehicles. The main destination for domestic Tesla exports is Europe. If the time is returned to Europe in 2021, this data is even more exaggerated. Among the 310,000 new energy vehicles exported to Europe, Tesla has a total of 163,000 units, occupying the Half of the country.

On the basis of this export volume, the new power that regards Europe as the main battlefield seems extremely lonely. According to eu-evs data, in 2021, Xiaopeng and NIO will deliver only 438 and 200 vehicles in Europe, accounting for only 5‰ and 2‰ of their own sales.

Then expand the scope of car companies. Among the European sales of traditional car companies and their new brands, the first and second are Geely Polestar and SAIC MG, which have European genes. The former is a sub-brand of Volvo, which originated in Sweden. , the latter is a British car company, and has a certain brand accumulation in Europe. But even so, sales were only 14,720 and 11,821, respectively, a fraction of Tesla’s.

The fourth-ranked BYD has formed a fault with the top two brands. When Tang EV and ETP3 are superimposed, only 1,239 units have been shipped. On the contrary, it is the little-known Aiways in China, whose shipments are comparable to BYD Tang. Comparable.

This is in stark contrast to BYD’s continuous high sales in China. Even though it is loved by consumers in China, it is not acclimatized overseas and it is difficult to replicate the domestic glory.

In the swarming European market, Chinese brands have a huge volume of sales – new forces have made high-profile overseas sales but their sales have fallen; car brands with European genes can’t win against Tesla with American genes; BYD, which is constantly making new highs in China It is difficult to become a white horse overseas, why is this?

First, it is much more difficult for new forces to copy the domestic style of play and move the new retail model overseas than to sell cars alone.

There are two ways BYD chooses to go overseas – export and overseas construction, but both ways point to a sales model, that is, cooperation with local dealers.

In Norway, BYD exports cars from China, and then sells cars through local dealer RSA, which has more than 40 distribution stores and after-sales service networks. In Thailand, BYD plans to invest and build a local factory, and local production capacity will be sold through distributor RêVER Automotive in the future. sold.

However, the new forces play different ways, and hope to replicate the new retail direct selling style and specialized services overseas. Xiaopeng has set up a direct-operated experience store in Europe; Weilai has built a directly-operated service and delivery center, charging map and swap station in Norway, and the Weilai Home in Frankfurt, Germany is expected to open early next year, both of which are expected to go from 0 to 1 , to establish a new sales channel overseas.

Gianmarco, a person in charge of car leasing in southern Europe, told Caijing Stories that car sales in Europe are very similar to mobile phone sales. The former is highly dependent on dealers, while the latter is highly dependent on operators, and there are basically no direct sales channels for brands.

Therefore, direct sales are more difficult than leveraging the local influence and channel network of dealers to sell cars, and the investment time and cost is longer. When the brand precipitation has not reached a certain level, the sales volume will also be slower.

In addition, in the domestic market, it has not yet fully established a firm foothold; whether overseas direct sales can replicate the domestic situation has not yet been confirmed; it will take time for new forces to ride the wind and waves overseas.

Second, the brand in the era of new energy vehicles is only launched by Tesla.

The sooner new energy vehicle companies enter the game, the more advantage they have.

Polestar will enter Europe in 2020, and MG will initially open the door to Europe in 2019, with a certain first-mover advantage; but compared with Tesla, which entered the European market in 2012, it has no advantage in building brand influence.

As for traditional car companies, BYD’s passenger cars will not officially go to sea until 2021, which is also later than SAIC and Dongfeng.

Among the leasing points in charge of Gianmarco, German Volkswagen and local Fiat are the mainstream new energy vehicle models. When asked about BYD and the new car-making forces, Gianmarco said he did not understand. Except for Tesla’s overseas bloom, most brands are on the same level overseas.

This matches the sales of electric vehicles in Europe. Except for Tesla, European consumers’ perception of new energy vehicles is more focused on local brands and German brands; Polestar, the most exported domestically, in 2021 It was only 12th in sales in 11 European countries in 2018.

Whether it is a traditional car company or a new force, entering the overseas market will not be achieved overnight.

High electricity prices stall overseas, geopolitical roadblocks

Behind the domestic joy of new energy vehicle exports hitting new highs, new energy vehicles in the seven European countries have been in decline since June, and the growth of the new energy market is stalling.

Asked about the decline in sales, Gianmarco told “Financial Stories” that it may be the result of rising electricity prices – he is in Italy, and his living electricity bill has tripled since the beginning of the year.

Specific to the use cost of super charging piles, 50kW charging piles, in addition to the start-up fee of 1 euro, currently cost 0.65 euros (4.5 yuan) per kilowatt-hour of electricity, which is more than 20% higher than before. “The cost of fuel vehicles and electric vehicles is poor. Not too much”.

The cost of fast charging in Europe provided by Gianmarco means that currently 0.65 yuan per kilowatt-hour of electricity The cost of fast charging in Europe provided by Gianmarco means that currently 0.65 yuan per kilowatt-hour of electricity

Although the high electricity price overseas has not yet affected the export of new energy vehicles in China, which car company can not treat it as a short-term and difficult risk?

Overweight overseas is not easy, and some Chinese car companies have quietly left.

The national car Wuling Hongguang MINI will go to Europe under the new name of Nikrob EV in 2020, and it will be discontinued after only 3 months of sale; WM Motor EX5 has reached an agreement with Uber in 2020 to export to more than ten countries in Europe, and is currently on the Internet However, sales data cannot be found on the Internet; Xiaopeng Motors also reported that overseas auto executives have left one after another in May.

Overseas markets are really not that simple. After all, geopolitics and the choice of exporting countries are an important stumbling block.

The globalization journey of Chinese car companies is a long journey. In October 2001, 10 passenger cars were loaded into an ordinary freighter and set sail from Tianjin Port to Syria. This is the prelude to Chinese passenger cars going to sea. From the day when Chinese passenger cars were exported, the overseas market of domestic brands lacked a solid base for growth, and passively chose the guerrilla warfare model.

Beginning in 2003, Chinese cars began to be exported to Russia. By 2008, Russia had become the country with the largest number of Chinese car exports at that time; but also from that year, Russia adjusted its import policy – suspending the production and assembly of all Chinese cars in the country. At the same time, it requires cars to meet EU emission standards. This policy has raised the threshold for Russian cars to be imported, resulting in a sharp drop in the number of Chinese cars exported to Russia.

In 2014, the export of Chinese automobiles became Iran’s first, and the good times were only 4 years; in 2018, the United States began to impose sanctions on Iran, and the risk of exporting automobiles to Iran increased. Domestic car companies no longer dared to export cars to Iran. China’s auto share dropped suddenly in 2019.

Ranking of China's auto exporting countries from 2008 to 2022 (Source: Cui Dongshu, Vice Chairman of China Passenger Transport Association) Ranking of China’s auto exporting countries from 2008 to 2022 (Source: Cui Dongshu, Vice Chairman of China Passenger Transport Association)

In the field of new energy, Great Wall Motors waited for two years, but failed to successfully acquire GM’s factory in India; Tesla launched its brand in Europe. Sue for unfair competition.

The person in charge of Chery Automobile said in an exchange, “Although Brazil has a large new energy market, in order to enter, it must meet the localization rate of the government’s assessment, and it is necessary to set up a local factory.” “Australia and New Zealand need to go through five-star collision verification, and recalls often occur in Australia.” The high entry cost also blocked the pace of a group of car companies.


In 2005, in the exhibition center in Frankfurt, Germany, in front of Geely’s booth, there was a Chinese dragon with a “combination of China and the West” – a supercar configuration, with a large area of ​​dragon totem, which attracted global attention. This is the first time a Chinese passenger car has made such a high-profile debut.

For a long period of time, Chinese car companies have always followed the West: attracting foreign investment, learning technology, and exporting vehicles are also low-priced vehicles, which damages the brand reputation.

After 17 years, China’s automobiles have undergone qualitative changes – from importing to going out, from catching up to becoming a foothold, starting to reverse technology export, and shipping all kinds of automobiles abroad.

Going overseas is to follow the trend, but this journey is not destined to be too easy. As Weilai Li Bin said, “Entering the global market is to plant a seed. We don’t want this seed to grow into a towering tree immediately; but if you do it well, it will bloom and bear fruit one day.” (The interview objects Lao Yu and Liu Huanqian are pseudonyms)

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