Electric vehicles will grab a larger share of China’s auto market next year as carmakers add more intelligent features, according to Group Lotus Chief Executive Officer Feng Qingfeng.
“EVs will be the brightest spot in China’s auto market next year and likely account for 30% of new auto sales or higher,” Feng said in an interview in Beijing Wednesday. “Another explosive driving force is that the intelligence level of EVs will see great advancement next year — understanding consumers better and being able to make more decisions independently.”
Lotus Tech, which develops cars for the Lotus brand, is tapping the potential for sports cars in the world’s biggest auto market against a small pool of competitors including Porsche Automobil Holding SE and BMW AG. New energy vehicles, which include plug-in hybrids and electric cars, accounted for just under 13% of China’s auto market in the first 11 months of this year.
SAIC, GM’s partner in China, said yesterday that the Lyriq, the first midsize luxury SUV on the Ultium electric vehicle platform, has received nearly 5,000 pre-orders after it opened for pre-sale on November 17.
SAIC revealed the figure when it released November sales data, without providing more information about the Lyriq.
The largest Chinese carmaker sold 601,360 vehicles in November, down 6.6 percent from 643,928 units a year earlier.
“The project is still in the confidential stage of development, please refer to the announcement of both sides,” Chinese media cls.cn quoted an unnamed BYD‘s source as saying.
Toyota will release an all-electric compact car in China next year that will use BYD’s core technologies, including its lithium iron phosphate batteries and lower-cost engineering, Reuters reported earlier today, citing four people familiar with the matter.
The model will be unveiled at the Beijing Auto Show next April and will likely be the second model in Toyota’s bZ series, but for now will only be sold in China, according to the report.
The model will be positioned below high-end electric cars like the Tesla Model Y and NIO ES6, but above the extremely cheap Hongguang Mini EV, the report said.
This is in line with a distinct recent trend – while electric vehicles are on the rise in the US, with sales climbing at an annual rate of 28% between 2015 and 2020, the other major car markets have pulled significantly ahead. The electric vehicle fleet grew at 51% a year in China over the same five-year period, while Europe has seen a 41% annual increase.
A lack of federal government support for electric vehicles, cheap gasoline prices in the US and a paucity of charging infrastructure is holding back progress, the report by ING found, with a drastic increase to nearly 9m zero-emission car sales needed by 2030 to hit the administration’s goal.
“What happened is that Europe set new carbon dioxide limits for cars while Donald Trump took the US backwards,” said Margo Oge, who previously oversaw vehicle regulation at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in reference to the former president’s decision to weaken pollution standards for new vehicles. “The policies of the Trump administration are reflecting the US being behind. But the US can catch up if it does the right things.”
Auto industry executives expect electric vehicles will make up just over half of new vehicle sales in the United States and China by 2030, and could do so without receiving government subsidies, according to a new survey by accounting and consulting firm KPMG.
But combustion vehicles, including hybrids, are expected to retain a significant share of most major vehicle markets for years to come, according to KPMG’s latest annual survey of 1,000 auto industry executives.
The speed at which automakers can phase out combustion engines and the carbon dioxide they emit is a pivotal issue for the global auto industry. A group of automakers and countries signed a statement earlier this month calling for phase-out of combustion vehicles globally by 2040, and by 2035 in richer nations.
The race is on to secure the global supply of lithium, a necessary component in the production of batteries for EVs.
Even though China’s lithium reserves rank as the world’s fourth largest, the silvery metal is mainly found in the salt lakes around Tibet and Qinghai, a sparsely populated Chinese province spread across the high-altitude Tibetan plateau. That makes it difficult to refine and transport. While the production of lithium carbonate from Qinghai Lake has doubled this year, demand still outpaces supply, according to Dong Yang, the vice president of leading automotive think tank China EV 100. To make up the shortfall, China imports about 70% of lithium from overseas. And with the prospect of even more lithium needed as the EV revolution picks up speed, companies are stepping up efforts to secure supply for its dominant refinery sector.
Ganfeng Lithium, one of the world’s top lithium producers, bid for a stake in Canada’s Millennial Lithium in July, while battery making giant CATL, led by billionaire Zeng Yuqun, joined the race a few months later, trumping Ganfeng. In the end, it was a third company, Lithium Americas, that emerged victorious (although Ganfeng is a shareholder in Lithium Americas). Undeterred, Ganfeng in September bought out its partner, International Lithium, in the Mariana project in Argentina, one of the biggest deposits globally. Last month, Zijin Mining paid around $755 million cash for Neo Lithium, a Canadian group that also has operations in Argentina.
Carmakers are getting in on the action too, with BYD earlier this month inking a four-year supply deal with Do-Fluoride New Materials for at least 56,050 tons of lithium hexafluorophosphate through December 2025. Lyu Xiangyang, the cousin of BYD founder Wang Chuanfu whose loan helped Wang establish the company in 1995, also has investments in spodumene, a lithium-bearing raw mineral, in Sichuan province, which should bolster BYD’s future supplies.
Meanwhile » Stellantis said it has secured a five-year supply of battery-grade lithium hydroxide to support its plans to convert to 98% electrified vehicles by 2025. » Washington Post »
Stellantis, the company that combined PSA Peugeot and Fiat Chrysler, signed a binding agreement with Vulcan Energy Resources Ltd. in Germany, which uses geothermal energy to produce the battery-quality lithium hydroxide from brine without using fossil fuels. Vulcan will supply between 81,000 metric tons and 99,000 metric tons of lithium hydroxide over the five-year term of the agreement.
Customers, beginning Nov. 17, can initially place orders for the rear-wheel drive, long-range version of the Lyriq at a price of 439,700 yuan ($68,811), GM China’s unit said.
The vehicle is produced at SAIC-GM, GM’s passenger vehicle joint venture with SAIC Motor Corp.
The Lyriq can drive for more than 650 kilometers on a full charge or 96 km on a 10-minute charge.
China deliveries are slated to start in mid-2022.