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Tesla To Export From China to EU, WM Preps for IPO, Grab & Gojek Merger On Again - SAI Newsletter 40


I had a lot of fun talking ‘shop’ with Lei Xing and Bill Russo for the Shanghai AmCham Beijing auto show Debrief webinar today so thanks to Bill for the invitation to participate. Also, thank you to those who were able to log on and listen to us wax poetic about everything from domestic & foreign automakers, EV policies, EV products, battery swapping to differentiation strategies for the China EVStartups. I hope those of you that logged on were able to gain some useful insights into what future lies ahead for the sector here and abroad.

I’d mentioned that there was another event that I’ll be taking part in this month and I’ve finally received the details. For those folks who are in Shanghai, I will be sitting on the EV/mobility panel for the Technode Emerge Tech Conference 2020 that’s scheduled for Thursday, October 29th, 9am – 5pm China local time. It’ll be an in-person conference so not only will I participate myself, I am looking forward to listening to the other speakers as an attendee. This will be a bit of normality injected into a 2020 that’s been filled with strange and un-normal things. You can register for the Emerge Conference 2020 here.

That also means I’ll be trying to pack a few months’ worth of formal meetings and informal catchups into about a day and a half’s worth of time so if you plan on attending the conference or are in Shanghai and would like to meet up, please do reach out. I may have to re-learn how to travel to be quite honest!

Onto the news.

TESLA IN THE NEWS -    Can the OEMs catch Tesla. It will NOT be easy since it seems like Tesla is extending its lead over them, not losing ground to them. If it’s going to happen it won’t be for quite some time. -      Tesla continuing on with its international expansion plans, this time in SEA? Tesla has an eye on building another battery factory, this one in Indonesia, which happens to be one of the largest nickel producers in the world. If they get anywhere close to their manufacturing ambitions, they’re going to need MANY more battery factories so this could be a very important first step towards fulfilling that need. -      Tesla planning to ship China-made Model 3s to the EU. A shift from Elon’s original strategy and this could be due to a # of reasons. First, higher demand from the EU than originally anticipated, less demand from China, or a combination of both could be likely. Seems temporary since Giga Berlin will come online sometime in 2021. IN THE NEWS -      Could Vinfast, Vietnam’s first-ever domestic car manufacturer convince the Vietnamese to switch from gas-powered motorbikes to electric scooters? They’re gonna try to. Vietnam, like many emerging Southeast/South Asian countries, has a pollution problem so there could be major health benefits to switching over to clean energy vehicles and since Vietnam isn’t yet ready for electric cars, Vinfast recently entered the e-scooter market with three products to help convince folks to make that switch. There will likely need to be govt. intervention and incentives to speed that switch over so look for more announcements about this in the future. There’s a balancing act that’s needed since any significant shift to electric vehicles would likely put a strain on Vietnam’s electric grid. -      Why Vespa style scooters were never that big in the US, and how that may change. It’s just a bit of history repeating itself really in order for them to have a 2nd life in the US. As more and more cities around the world begin to limit private passenger vehicles on their city streets we may see a renaissance of those step-through, sit-down scooters, this time around being electric and coming from China. I have been in conversations with some Asia scooter startups who are looking at entering the US market trying to convince them that now is the ‘right’ time. These companies who have been successful in Asia and recently in the EU still believe that awareness and hence demand has not reached a tipping point in the US yet. But the longer Covid-19 lingers and makes public transportation an unattractive mobility option the tipping point gets closer and closer. -      The concept of killing two birds with one stone is not lost on Swiftmile. Swiftmile, for those who’ve not heard of them, offer cities free charging stations that can power e-scooters and e-bicycles. They are solar-powered but still need a power source so they can still be used at night. The company generates revenue through the digital advertising billboards that are attached to each charging station. Most important, Swiftmile is platform/product/service agnostic and will work with any service provider or can even make dedicated charging stations should any provider want to give their shared product exclusive access.   -          WM Motor preps for its big debut on the Shanghai Star Board likely early next year. Zigging while their contemporaries zag, it could be a very prudent move to IPO locally and an indication that they’re going to be much more focused initially on growing their market share in China before leaving those friendly confines for growth abroad. Like the other EVStartups though, I am sure that the management team has a few tricks up their sleeves to keep the international community interested. Evergrande is also going through a similar process for their IPO – who will ultimately be first to market? -          India and Japan have formally agreed to cooperate on the development of 5G, AI, and other future, essential technologies. This can only be read one way and that’s to create an alternative for India and Japan to what’s currently out there. -          A formidable management team is being put together to run the EU’s premiere EV Startup. For now, let’s file this under the ‘trying to stay relevant’ folder though. Piech Automotive has some well-known managers from Porsche, Tesla, and BMW but where’s the tech guy?? And two CEOs? That worked out well for Byton. Because of these folks pedigrees and the EU’s need to find a terrific ‘startup EV’ story, Piech will get media attention, attract capital, and find capable partners/employees. Whether they can bring a formidable EV to market at any pricepoint and/or segment remains to be seen though. I hope these guys are successful but it just seems like a lot of big egos so I am skeptical. TRENDING ON SOCIAL MEDIA -    Jetpack Man flying 6K feet over LAX. Like I said, we cover ALL mobility. -      The Grab & Gojek mashup back on? If Masayoshi Son has anything to say about it then – YES! This merger would likely lock up SEA for the combined company so that they could concentrate on global expansion outside of Asia. -      The Hummer reveal is tomorrow during the 1st game of the World Series. It has monster numbers including 1K HP & 11.5K lb-ft of torque! Who’s curious to see what the GMC Hummer all about?? -      XPeng builds its 10,000th P7 sedan. XPeng started delivery of the P7 in June so it seems that sales are quite brisk. STATS OF NOTE -   According to China’s National Bureau of Statistics the Chinese economy grew at 4.9% in CQ3’20. China may be the only notable country that sees economic growth in 2020. -      The magic number: 316.11mph. That’s the new Guinness World Record speed captured by the ‘fastest production vehicle’ on the planet – now owned by the ~$1.6M SSC Tuatara. It crushed the previous record held by the Koenigsegg Agera RS of 277.9mph. -      It seems ICEs will be extinct earlier than we previously thought. 31% of global passenger vehicle sales will be made up of battery electric vehicles (BEVs) by 2030 according to Morgan Stanley. This forecast does NOT include plug-in hybrids (PHEVs). That’s an increase from their previous forecast of 26% by 2030. With all the movement & investment happening now, that number seems light. Especially once we hit the tipping point in the US & EU markets. Covid-19 has pulled in EV adoption by at least a couple of years here in China which will likely dictate more drastic moves towards EVs in the US & EU regions. PRODUCT & SERVICE INTRODUCTIONS -    Uber and SK Telecom partnering in South Korea to form a ride-hailing JV. Uber has NOT given up on S. Korea, it seems. -      Merc enters the e-scooter market with its own foldable, Lime/Bird style electric (kick) scooter. Essential specs: 500W motor, 12mph top speed, 15.5-mile range, front & rear suspension, front & rear mounted lights, and best of all Merc basically designed it to be bulletproof – they claim that it should easily reach 3K miles of use before any significant wear & tear. -      The Sondors MadMods coming in 2021. These mini-dirt bike look-alikes have a 750W motor, a thumb throttle, pedals in case you want some exercise, and a 40-60 mile range again depending on how much you pedal yourself. It’ll be $1,499 and modifiable, hence the name. Looks like it could be a fun, comfortable, and affordable ride for getting around town. -      You’re going to need to set aside $162K if you want in on the Mercedes-Maybach GLS 600. This is Merc’s most expensive SUV and its luxe but not sure it’s THAT luxe. What slowdown in the economy? —— 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


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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