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Jidu Robo-1 Unveil, BYD Tops VW, Singapore Jumps China for Startup ecosystem - SAI Newsletter 23


…and we are BACK to restrictions. The bar outbreak turned into a huge mess and restaurants around the Sanlitun area have been closed and contact tracing points to >6K people as close contacts to people who were partying at Heaven Supermarket. We are also back to daily testing for the foreseeable future. Our new normal. The kids never made it back to in-person school and it’s highly unlikely that they will before the end of the school year. Many expats I know have decided to leave China if only temporarily to visit friends & family, three-week quarantine upon return be damned! There is still a ton of uncertainty even as more parts of Shanghai open up and factories start to move towards normal. June sales numbers could potentially spike due the combination of opening back up and the increased incentives for purchase, but we’ll have to wait and see to be sure. China EVs & More is scheduled this week for Thursday, 06.17 – 9pm EST, Friday, 06.18 – 9am China local time so meet us in our Twitter Spaces room then to get a download on all that’s happening in the space. Those that can’t join, the China EVs & More podcast is available wherever you grab your podcasts from. Most of our back pods are posted and the descriptions will be able to tell you what we discussed that particular episode. QUOTED - I had a nice chat with Will Knight for this piece he wrote about Jidu for Wired. That was the big event of last week and Lei, my China EVs & More partner-in-crime, even said it was the biggest smart EV reveal this year. One of the reasons he said that I think is because that it’s the first of the technology companies’ products that will be launching over the next several months. We spent about 20 mins unpacking the unveil on last week’s pod which was just posted today (so have a listen), but my quick take on the Robo-1 is that if Baidu can really fulfill its promise of being the ‘autorobot’ that it’s been talking up in the marketing material and the unveil last week, at a starting price of ¥200K or equal to $30K, Jidu will have no problems selling a bunch of them. One noticeable omission for the entire unveil, an unveil entirely in the metaverse BTW - range, battery size, charging capabilities, etc. was not mentioned once. Is that important, sure it is but those specs have now become qualifiers and we’ve moved into a much more mature market where features, brand trust, and wow factors will play a more prominent role in a buyer’s decision. TESLA - Tesla is back to full production. This is a public private co-op since this doesn’t happen without a lot of handholding from the local Lingang govt pulling out all of the stops to get Tesla back online. Impressive, both getting back to full production AND the relationship Tesla has been able to develop with the local Shanghai officials. - Indonesia wants Tesla to build cars there. We’ve already seen pictures of Elon meeting with government folks from Indonesia and this is just more of it. If Tesla is to get to 20M vehicles sold/year by 2030, they will need Gigafactories ALL over the place. That means more volume in the US, China and many other locations. Whether one of those places is Indo remains to be seen but what we do know is that it would make sense from the standpoint of Indonesia being the largest producer of nickel in the world. - BYD batteries will go into MIC Model Ys, but not really until 2023. That’s the current gameplan according to a Chinese media outlet who have spoken to insiders. THE MOST INTERESTING THINGS THAT HAPPENED THIS WEEK - On June 7th, BYD became the 3rd most valuable car company in the world. Surpassing VW Group. This is a pretty significant turn of events for both BYD and VW Group as one has really blossomed with the move to EVs while one is beginning to wilt as it struggles to refresh its line up enough to maintain sales of its ICE vehicles while it launches its EVs. I don’t see a scenario where VW Group reclaims the #3 spot either, the delta between #3 &#4 is only going to widen. IN THE NEWS - Electric Last Mile Solutions plans to liquidate. Better known as ELMS, the company has been under a great deal of scrutiny ever since it was discovered that its two cofounders were part of some shady dealings. One of the cofounders, Jason Luo was selected to be Ford China CEO but left after only 5 months. It appears he saw a bigger payout planting his own flag. I suppose he didn’t heed Elon’s warnings about getting to mass production on cars is REALLY hard. Whether the mismanagement was criminal or not remains to be seen but I don’t believe anyone is going to be punished for this debacle. ELMS will officially liquidate but the only thing that seems worthy of acquiring may be a cheap sublet in Troy, MI. - Two can play at this game. Geely, having all kinds of envy for Apple, Tesla, NIO and likely others wants to be thought of, and valued like the big boys its chasing and has decided it also wants to get into mobile phones. Recall that Li Bin, NIO’s founder has discussed getting into mobile phones as well. Be careful what you wish for. Mobile phones isn’t an easy market to enter either, although much easier and less capital intensive than building cars. I’d love to be a part of some of these meetings where these ideas are brought up. What’s the calculus on this? The assumption has to be that they can design and manufacture a globally competitive mobile phone, right? Otherwise, why do it!?? Love the ambition and perhaps I’ll be proven wrong, but I am not sure getting to #1 mobility/transportation provider in the world involves building mobile phones. - Ferrari to unveil its strategy to go electric later this week. So far, the prancing horse has hinted at its product lineup change by intro’ing 4 hybrids and will be launching a fully electric vehicle by 2025. Ferrari is also launching an SUV to join the lux automakers including Aston, Bentley, Rolls, Lamborghini, and Porsche who’ve been minting money since each of their SUVs launched. I am in plenty of chat groups in which many of the folks in those groups decry the move to electric, specifically from companies like Ferrari. I am not one of those crybabies, and I can’t wait to see what Ferrari’s plans shape out to be. We will then see if the electric platform is the ultimate equalizer or if storied brands like Ferrari will be able to carve their own place in this new landscape. TRENDING ON SOCIAL MEDIA - Dongfeng’s EV brand Voyah gets its first passport stamp. It’s a Norwegian stamp which is not much of a surprise. Voyah, which does 马马虎虎 (Mandarin for ‘just ok’) in its home Chinese market - it shipped just under 4.7K units in 2022 - must’ve decided that it’s too competitive and wants a branch out and sees opportunity in foreign markets. The tidal wave that started last year is turning into a gush. We won’t know which brands and products truly resonate until sometime next year though as most of the brands just entering need to get their feet under them before they can begin to focus on marketing and educating consumers. - Cyclists in Mexico City protest for more cyclist rights and against more car-centric policies - NAKED. No joke here, but that’s one way to get the local government’s attention! - Vinfast echoes the global ambitions of its Chinese competitors. Vinfast plans to open 50 stores in Europe to sell its first set of products, the VF8 & VF9. Vinfast is a subsidiary of the Vingroup, whose founder Pham Nhat Vuong is the richest person in Vietnam. According to Forbes, he’s worth ~$6.2B which is a far cry from Elon’s $215B. He seems willing to go broke apparently to get Vinfast off the ground. I say that because even in the best case scenario for Vinfast’s IPO, perhaps they raise $1 – 1.2B? Even adding that to his net worth (which isn’t liquid), he’s not wealthy enough to begin production of the VF* & VF9, get a factory in North Carolina built, launch stores and service centers in Vietnam, Europe, and the US all at once. I see a cash crunch in their future even if they can get enough pre-orders to fund their initial set of parts orders for production. Also, the article states that Vinfast manufactures EVs in Vietnam, but I’ve not heard of any vehicles being manufactured yet. So is making that call premature? - The soundtracks of my youth. A pretty definitive list of the greatest rap/hip hop albums of all-time. A few surprises in the top 50 but overall, I can’t argue with what album is #1. I am lucky enough to be influenced by all types of music, which surprises many because of where I grew up. But I am definitely not one note. During my teen years I went through my R&B, skater, brit pop, gangsta rap, hip-hop, punk rock, classic rock, new wave phases. Never really got into country but that’s about it. My favorite bands are like children, can’t name one so I’ll name a few off the top of my head. The Clash, Radiohead, Tribe, Dr. Dre, Oasis, New Order, Gang Starr, Coldplay and so many more. INTRODUCING - Radar: Geely’s pickup brand that wants to compete against Ford, GM, and Rivian? Pickups are a funny thing in China. That’s because they can’t be driven on the main roads or highways in most major cities. So spotting an F150, Ram truck or Silverado on Beijing’s streets is rarer than a Sasquatch sighting. Love, love, love Geely’s ambitions. Some of their current announcements could actually get them closer to the global domination they surely covet. But I am afraid that the team doesn’t have the management bench strength to execute on all of these grand plans. I don’t know if ANY automaker does. BY THE NUMBERS - #7. That’s what Singapore ranked in StartupBlink’s Startup Ecosystem Index 2022. That makes it AsiaPac’s #1 ecosystem even surpassing China, a major upset! Singapore was 10th, China 7th in the 2021 Index. Is this an anomaly or will Singapore’s ranking stick. Will have to wait and see 2023’s rankings. —— This weekly newsletter is a collection of articles we feel best reflect the happenings of the week or important trends that have effects on the automotive and mobility sectors here and in the US, we also provide a point of view that we hope educates and sparks debate. The Sino Auto Insights Team


Sino Auto Insights is a Beijing, China-based market research and advisory firm that specializes in assisting companies analyze, strategize, and develop products and services that will shape the future of mobility and transportation. Members of our team have experience working in Detroit, Silicon Valley as well as here in China across multiple sectors and functions as entrepreneurs as well as working at larger companies like Apple, Google, Amazon, GM and FCA, and many others.

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