StoreDot plans to manufacture ultra-fast charging battery cells on a large scale by 2024 and has attracted investment from VinFast. As we asked this week: Could VinFast’s bet on the next generation of StoreDot EV batteries lead it to driving electric cars? VinFast cars may not be a familiar sight in Western countries, but the company has been capturing market share in its home market in Vietnam since it began producing BMW-based models in 2019. The company had more than 31,000 sales in 2020, up 62.4% from the previous year, and in 2021, it clarified its plans to electrify its lineup. This will start with a three-model offensive featuring the VF e34, VF e35 and VF e36, with the first arriving with customers at the end of 2021. However, with new players like Tesla, Rivian and Lucid all the time in their EV strategies, and old car operators like Mercedes, Volkswagen and Ford now rolling out their electrified models, VinFast risks hitting the scene too late to make a significant impact, especially in export markets outside of Vietnam. To help mitigate these risks, VinFast has made a number of investments in advanced electric vehicle battery technology. Batteries have emerged as one of the main technical factors that distinguish electric vehicles and are the single biggest factor in determining a vehicle’s range, performance, longevity, and purchase price.
Beijing withdraws support for electric vehicles. Another question we asked this week: Does it threaten future market growth? China’s success in electrification of cars is largely attributed to favorable central and regional government policies that have supported the manufacture and sale of electric vehicles. It was because of government support that electric vehicle costs were on par with ICE cars that set China on the path to mass adoption of this technology. However, with the domestic electric vehicle market becoming more entrenched day by day, the government is working to phase out subsidies for new energy vehicles. The latest developments indicate that the government could completely stop subsidizing electric vehicles by the end of 2022. According to the announcement by the country’s Ministry of Finance, China will reduce subsidies on electric vehicles by 30% this year and eliminate all subsidies by the end of 2022 year. In 2020, the government announced that it would reduce subsidies for new energy vehicles from the private sector by 10% in 2020, 20% in 2021, and 30% in 2022. For public transportation, the plan was to reduce subsidies by 10% in 2021 and 20% in 2022. However nothing is planned with the emergence of the COVID-19 virus in the country. Now, in a similar move, the government recently announced the replacement of its green car credit system with a new Carbon Emissions Trading System (ETS) which has a greater vision of carbon neutrality than just boosting production/sales of electric cars individually.
Thailand has intensified its efforts in recent months to establish itself as a major production hub for zero-emissions vehicles (ZEVs), as it looks to play a major role in the electric vehicle (EV) revolution already underway in the world’s most advanced economies. Like other developing economies across Asia, Thailand has so far struggled to create a large domestic ZEV market, which is seen as key to attracting serious investment in the sector. Affordability will be the main problem to be overcome in the short and medium term, while other issues such as range networks and recharging are addressed. Electric vehicles are typically much more expensive than their internal combustion engine (ICE) counterparts, mainly due to the high cost of lithium-ion batteries that can account for up to 40% of the total cost of an electric vehicle. This year, sales of zero-emissions light passenger cars in Thailand will likely struggle to reach a few hundred units. Similar levels of ZEV market penetration (or lack thereof) can also be seen in most major auto markets in the ASEAN region, where governments have not been able to match the generous incentives and subsidies available to buyers in wealthier economies.
Aptiv has announced a definitive agreement to acquire Wind River from TPG Capital, the private equity platform of global alternative asset manager TPG, for $4.3 billion in cash. Used on over two billion high-end devices by more than 1,700 customers globally, Wind River software enables the development, deployment, operation, and service of intelligent systems. The edge-to-cloud suite of software spans the aerospace, defense, communications, industrial and automotive markets and is anchored on Wind River Studio, a cloud-intelligent systems software platform that enables full product lifecycle management of edge-to-cloud use cases. Wind River generated approximately $400 million in revenue in 2021. “The automotive industry is undergoing its biggest transformation in more than a century, as connected, software-defined vehicles increasingly become critical components of the broader intelligent ecosystem,” said the president and CEO of Wind River. Aptiv, Kevin Clark. “Fully taking advantage of this opportunity requires end-to-end solutions that enable faster software development, smooth deployment, and optimization throughout the vehicle lifecycle by leveraging data-driven insights. These same needs are driving smart edge growth across multiple end markets. Through synergistic Aptiv and Wind River technologies. And decades of experience delivering critical safety systems, we will accelerate this journey into a software-defined future for the automotive industry.”
Chinese tech giant Baidu is stepping up efforts to expand into the self-driving vehicle sector with the commercial launch of a Level 2 autonomous vehicle model next year. CEO Robin Li confirmed that Jidu Auto, Baidu’s joint venture with local automaker Zhejiang Geely Holding Group, plans to start mass production of its first electric vehicle (EV) with Level 2 autonomous driving technologies in 2023. The vehicle’s self-driving system is powered by chips. Nvidia is scheduled to be unveiled at the Beijing Auto Show in April 2022. Baidu, widely known as the internet search engine and artificial intelligence company, is targeting the autonomous car sector as a major growth industry and is in the process of launching autonomous taxi services across China. With its Jidu Auto joint venture, Baidu is set to join a number of Chinese tech giants including Huawei, Alibaba, Tencent and also Apple Inc in the global electric car craze, as global demand continues to soar.
At CES, BMW showed the iX Flow concept featuring E Ink, which it says offers prospects for a future technology that uses digitization to also adapt the car’s exterior to different situations and individual desires. The surface color of the vehicle featuring the E Ink can be varied according to the driver’s preference. Changes in the color of the fluids are made possible thanks to a specially developed body shell. When stimulated by electrical signals, the electrophoresis technology brings different color pigments to the surface. BMW claims that E Ink technology opens up entirely new ways to alter the vehicle’s appearance in line with the driver’s aesthetic preferences, environmental conditions or even functional requirements. It says the technology offers unprecedented possibilities for exterior customization as well as the potential for a new form of customization both in the exterior and interior of future production vehicles.
VUCA, an acronym that stands for volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity, will likely be the auto industry’s next buzzword as a result of Covid, according to market analysts at Cox Automotive. VUCA is used to describe a state of constant and unpredictable change that is now the norm in many industries as companies prepare for a new year that continues to present challenges for all organizations. Cox analysts say we’ll have to get used to the VUCA trading climate for some time now. Given the industry’s outlook in a post-pandemic world, Cox says, “We expect VUCA to continue.”
Hyundai Motor Corporation announced at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas that it has partnered with New York-listed Unity Software Inc to co-design a metaverse-based digital twin for an automobile plant to help it improve its operations and allow for virtual problem-solving. The South Korean automaker said Unity is a global leader in providing a platform for creating and playing 3D (RT3D) content in real time. The two companies “virtually” signed a wide-ranging Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) this week, covering intelligent manufacturing, artificial intelligence (AI) training and autonomous driving simulation. Hyundai said it expects Unity to support its vision of becoming a leader in future mobility solutions. It is looking to become the first automaker to build a “Meta Factory” – a digital twin of a real factory, powered by the Metaverse platform. Factory Meta will allow Hyundai to test a factory run by default in order to calculate optimized plant operations and enable plant managers to solve problems remotely. Hyundai said the partnership also aims to develop a real-time, 3D virtual platform targeting a wide range of Hyundai customers, offering a more comprehensive set of services across sales, marketing and customer experiences. It will allow consumers to digitally try, test and deal with various automotive related solutions before choosing their vehicles. The first Meta-Factory concept is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2022 at Hyundai Mobility’s Global Mobility Innovation Center (HMGICS) in Singapore, where the company is building an open R&D hub.
Despite the pandemic and the global semiconductor supply crisis, the BMW Group posted an 8.4% year-over-year sales growth last year, with a total of 2,521,525 BMW, MINI and Rolls-Royce vehicles delivered. BMW sales reached a new all-time high of 2,213,795 units (+9.1%) last year. The BMW Group doubled its sales of all-electric vehicles in 2021 to 103,855 units (+133.2%).
Jaguar Land Rover said retail sales for the three-month period ending December 31, 2021 – the automaker’s fiscal third quarter – remained constrained by the global semiconductor shortage although it “began to see some improvement in chip supply and wholesale volumes.” compared to the previous quarter. ‘Basic demand for [our] Products are still going strong and [we have] The automaker said in a statement that its semiconductor supply proactively managed to increase production of higher-margin products. Retail sales in the third quarter of the fiscal year decreased 13.6% qoq to 80,126 vehicles and 37.6% qoq. Retail volume decreased in all regions compared to the previous quarter, including China (-6.9%), Europe (-6.8%), North America (-11.8%), the United Kingdom (-24.3%) and “Overseas” (-25.4%) . However, the wholesale volume was 69,182 units and the production volume was 72,184 units in the period (both excluding China JV), up 8% and 41%, respectively, on a quarterly basis. “The increase in production in particular reflects the beginning of an improvement in the supply of chips,” JLR noted.
Graeme Roberts, Deputy Editor of Just Auto