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SAI Weekly 03 - 24: BYD Launches 3 NEVs in Indo, 10 Years for Mary, SAIC Sandbags


Tesla, Li Auto now NIO have kicked off 2024 with a BANG. All slashing prices on their products. Legacy Auto was hoping that their EV sales bottomed out in 2023, but the nightmare continues. Because this means that the companies that you’ve never heard of, the ones with EVs that’ll never see a foreign market are also slashing prices.


Companies like VW brand and others have given away their margin to try to sell enough to keep their factories running but more price cuts by competitors means that they either need to follow their competitors with their own price cuts or risk losing even more share. Share they will not likely EVER get back. Rock meet hard place.


The Lions won their wildcard playoff game on Sunday. It was THE best game last weekend too. The buzz in the city and in the stadium during the game was nothing I’d ever seen before. With the Pistons being absolutely horrible and the Tigers and Wings being just average we are very hungry for a winner.


A small part of me just prior to the game had just hoped we wouldn’t lay an egg. I think that’s from the PTSD of rooting for the Lions for so long. With Dallas getting completely smashed by Green Bay, that allowed us to have another home playoff game this week. I toyed with buying 4 tix to the game until I saw the prices. See more below. 




9am ET on Friday, tomorrow. Join us. Lei and I will talk the current set of price cuts and what we’re hearing about them. We also will unpack the TuSimple saga and much, much more.


To join the live show, follow me on X: @sinoautoinsight and at 9am at the top where the Spaces rooms show up, you should see our show. You can any questions you have.


If you can can’t join the live show, I invite you to listen to our recorded China EVs & More episodes at this site. And as always, we appreciate any feedback that will make the show better.




-   Detroit News. To put it more accurately, I’ll say kinda sorta quoted. That’s because Daniel Howes, one of the automotive writers for the Detroit News, who is a subscriber to this newsletter pulled a few paragraphs out of last week’s re: GM, and highlighted them in this article.


Daniel, thanks for reading and referencing my post in your article! For the record I worked at GM in the US and Ford in China, Shanghai specifically but not for very long.




-   Tesla China price cuts gets an EU passport stamp. Specifically, if you just bought a Tesla last week in the Netherlands, Germany, Norway or France, you may need a hug. Prices were reduced between 4 – 8% in those countries this week. Not as bad as the China price cuts for MIC MY of 11% and M3 of 6%.  


This is pretty telling since we are barely into 2024. One may have to do as much about a country’s economy, but the other is likely seeing that their product offerings are now also long in the tooth there and are trying to goose some sales. I’ll let you guess which is which. When is that M2 going to be coming out again?


-   Pirates causing supply chain problems? I bet you never thought I’d lead with any statements like that, did you?


With the just announced Tesla price cuts in some EU countries, this seems part smoke screen part truth, but that seems to always be the case with Tesla. Now, this is BerlinGiga shutting down to be clear. Which parts (or battery components / cells) are being shipped from China? Can’t they source everything (except batteries) from the EU?




-   3 NEVs coming to Indonesia. Who does this? BYD does. All at once entering Indonesia on the passenger vehicle side with the launch of the Seal, Dolphin and Atto 3 (their international car). BYD is already supplying Indonesia with electric buses so this rounds out their entry into the Southeast Asian country.


Normally companies start with one product. And not only is BYD doing that x3, they are betting on Indonesia being a manufacturing hub for them to the tune of an >$1B investment – For those that don’t know this – Indonesia is ASEAN’s largest country with a population of ~270M citizens.


The factory is supposed to start with an initial capacity of 150K units but bet that that’ll increase with time and with the Indonesian per capita income increasing.




-   Saying Bye-dar to LiDAR. NIO’s mass market brand codenamed Alps will be eschewing LiDAR and go vision ONLY for their ADAS system. As I’d mentioned in the previous newsletter, I believe there will be more companies that will choose to go the way of Tesla and that LiDAR which is currently an ultra-competitive ADAS market segment with companies like Hesai driving down the / unit price.


There are still too many LiDAR providers and not enough differentiation in their products to really warrant any big winners in the space. The technology will be commoditized within the next 4-7 years with prices being driven down to a sub-$50 pricepoint.


The mobility companies that will continue to use LiDAR as part of their stack will do so because they’ve already incorporated it into their overall design and engineering it out could cost more than just leaving it in as a redundant safety measure. That's my prediction so make sure to write it down, put it in your calendar or whatever you need to to remind yourself..


-   TuSimple is delisting from the Nasdaq. The US portion of this saga now looks to be concluding. Even down to having a fire sale to get rid of all its capital equipment.  The 2021 IPO left it with a boatload of cash (~$90M) so that will now be deployed (maybe) in China to build out its business there.


One thing people may not know about TuSimple in China is that their technology isn’t all about autonomous trucking but also includes autonomous port vehicles. The ones used to help load and unload shipping containers. The US market was immediate but the tightrope it needed to walk proved to be too difficult.


TuSimple thought they’d beaten the deadline to listing in the US before both the Chinese and US govts closed it. They did, in fact IPO prior to the door effectively closing for most Chinese companies or US companies with strong Chinese ties, but their ties only complicated due to the structure of their leadership team.


-   Chinese Lithium Mining company and Hyundai partnering. Ganfeng is going to supply Hyundai with lithium  for its EVs over the next few years. Ganfeng is the largest lithium mining company in the world with mines / mining rights in Aus, Chile and a disputed mine in Mexico just to name a few. Will these be eligible for IRA money??


-   Fixing broken chargers in the US. To the tune of $150M spread over 4.5K chargers in 20 states at least this is what the article states. I am either in the wrong business (this can be true even if the other is not) or someone fatfingered one of those numbers because basic math tells me that ~$33K is being allocated per charger – WHAT?!



-   10 Years. Happy Anniversary Mary Barra for 10 years at the helm of GM. She is a pioneer – the first female to lead one of the legacy OEMs. She’s led over a lot of GM drama over the last 10 years and I think she’s generally done a very good job over that time.


Her biggest test is in front of her though. The changes happening to the automotive space will likely cause a few of the other automotive leaders to lose their positions, see: Herbert Diess. His mistake wasn’t trying to usher in change since a lot of what he did and said was right, unfortunately the ultimate decisionmakers underestimated the foundational changes that needed to occur to push VW Group into the future. And how he communicated them ruffled some feathers.


Those folks really need to get over it because it's only going to get worse. That's right, we aren't at the bottom for most automakers, there's still quite a ways to go down.


With Diess' forced exit, we are seeing VW Group continue to deal with major challenges, top of mind is the effective rejection of their EVs in China. The next is their software strategy, since going all-in on Cariad didn’t work in the past.


But back to Mary, I’ve heard rumors that she wasn’t much longer for her role at GM, but having just seen her speak over Xmas, I think she may try to stick around to implement her ideas in full. The challenges with GM are many, here are just a few: China, Cruise, Ultium platform, product strategy, battery manufacturing strategy and beating off China EV Inc in China and the US.


But one thing I think could be game over for ALL the current execs is how they will make over their culture, processes, investment and decisionmaking to support their companies transformation into software powerhouses. In GM’s case, it means that Ultifi needs to be bulletproof, especially now that they’ve kicked Apple out of their vehicles. Again, an impossible task for most if you asked me.


Congratulations on your last 10 years Mary, here’s to your next 10 years at GM being full of positive change and amazing products and services!


-   1.35M. That’s how many vehicles SAIC plans to sell outside of China in 2024. They plan to do this mainly through its MG brand while also launching 14 NEV models worldwide before the end of 2025.


SAIC sold 1.208M units in 2023 so it’s a modest increase in sales for 2024. What it really looks like? SAIC is sandbagging to not trigger too many alarm bells. I think they’ll smash that 1.35M number this year.


-   +3%. That’s how much Porsche grew overall in 2023, selling 320,221. That’s not the number people should be paying attention to. The one that stands out: -15% YoY in China. That should scare Porsche management. A lot.


-   $1,186. Average ticket prices for this weekend’s Lions vs. Tampa Bay matchup that you ask?




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 global automotive and mobility sectors. 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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