Welcome to the next edition of China × Cleantech. A new year has come and the news keeps flowing. In order to aggregate and summarize the highlights for you, we publish this China × Cleantech feature on CleanTechnica.com and over on the “Future Trends” section of our website.
Tesla’s Chinese news kept rolling strong in January. News stories included the groundbreaking of Gigafactory 3 in Shanghai, information on when Tesla Gigafactory 3 is expected to start producing cars, the opening of Model 3 ordering, an anti-ICEing barrier for Tesla Supercharging, and an update on Tesla Supercharger development over the last 5 years in China.
Zachary Shahan, with help from our friend Vincent from Twitter, covered the groundbreaking of Tesla Gigafactory 3 in Shanghai, including news from Elon Musk that the factory is scheduled to finish initial construction in the summer of 2019. A low level of production is forecasted for the end of 2019 and full production is expected to be reached sometime in 2020. This news was covered in more depth by Zachary Shahan the next day, adding the news that Tesla Gigafactory Shanghai will produce the more affordable base versions of the Model 3 and Model Y while the higher cost versions will continue to be produced in the USA.
Paul Fosse also reported on Tesla opening up Model 3 orders to non-reservation holders in China and Europe, including potential implications.
In the first Tesla charging news of this newsletter, we have a feature that has been requested by Tesla owners for a long time — a solution to ICEing. Kyle Field posted pictures from a Twitter user showing parking protection devices at a Tesla Supercharger in Shanghai. It uses Wechat to digitally communicate and unlock the device. This development is interesting, as it might pave the way towards a worldwide solution to ICEing (which is where other cars block the parking places where cars need to park to charge).
The final Tesla news is a report on Tesla Supercharger deployment in China over the last 5 years. The details are illustrated on maps showing the deployment for each year and the number of stations built per year. To read more and to enjoy the maps, read more on CleanTechnica.
Matt Pressman discussed the massive market potential in China for Tesla while covering EV sales news from China’s Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM). The sales report showed that China’s EV sales reached 1.26 million units, which would mean that China’s market is at least 3 times bigger than the USA EV market. This creates an interesting dynamic, especially as China’s EV sector continues to transform and even automakers in China are starting to feel the heat from more aggressive EV-supportive policies. We will see how well Tesla can capitalize on the largest car market in the world.
Additionally, Charles Morris discussed how Gigafactory 3 in Shanghai is mingling with the present trade/political climate between China and USA.
New Chinese Car Company News
Byton has opened its first store in Shanghai. Nicolas Zart wrote for CleanTechnica that Byton will use both direct sales from its stores and partner sales. Additionally, the points of sale found on its website offer a variety of options — Wechat, Byton App, call centres, and retail locations.
Nicolas Zart continued his ongoing series about Byton by covering a co-creation event on electric vehicles (EV), autonomous vehicles (AV), connectivity, and ridesharing.
Kyle Field wrote an article about SF Motors opening its new factory in Chongqing, China. SF motors intends to bring two vehicles to market to kick things off, producing them in both the USA and China. Those are the SF5 and SF7.
Other Chinese Electric Car News
Steve Hanley dove into the ORA R1 from Great Wall (a Chinese automaker, not a wall), looking at how this cheap 200-mile EV (or perhaps 140 mile EV) has similar range to the Nissan LEAF but is half the price. Additionally, he noted that Great Wall took inspiration from Tesla to release a new electric brand, ORA, with this being its introductory model.
Nicolas Zart reported on GAC’s ENTRANZE EV concept, which it showed off at the Detroit Auto Show. This vehicle is generally seen as part of the long game of Chinese automakers trying to make inroads into other large global markets. The ENTRANZE EV concept was designed by the GAC Advanced Design Center in Los Angeles and is a 7 seat futuristic SUV. The biggest news about GAC, though, is that it registered a North American Sales Company in Irvine, California, and the GAC R&D Center Detroit has started operations. All of this news together points toward the company preparing for market entry into the USA.
BYD, JAC, and BAIC in January released or unveiled new compact electric SUVs for the Chinese market. BYD opened up the BYD EV535 for pre-sale, which is an upgraded version of an existing compact electric SUV. The price: 111,000 RMB ($16,500) after subsidy. JAC revealed that the iEV S4, a compact electric SUV, will be released in the first half of 2019 for 170,000 RMB ($25,200) after subsidy. BAIC opened up pre-sale of the EX5, a compact electric SUV that goes for 188,880 RMB ($28,000) before subsidy.
Government EV Policy
Steve Hanley took a dive into government subsidies of electric vehicles by comparing some major subsidy changes underway in different countries. His report on Chinese EV subsides highlights that a new subsidy system is now in place in China that requires 10% of all new cars sales be “new energy vehicles.” If quotas are not hit, automakers have to purchase credits from other manufacturers. This comes along with a reduction of direct subsidies for new energy vehicle (NEV) purchases.
Cars that automakers produce only because the government requires them are commonly called compliance cars. Maarten Vinkhuyzen took a deep dive into the topic of electric compliance cars around the world, starting with a more thorough description of what a compliance car is and then looking into each major market and the compliance cars within these markets. This included a discussion of China’s car market and why it’s a priority for EV production and sales. (Hint: see the paragraph above this one.)
Getting into more details on China’s NEV mandate, Maarten discussed the details of the policy more. Maarten indicated that some expect the mandate will increase sharply, as China is aiming to achieve 100% NEV sales by 2030. He concludes that this is the largest and most likely reason for the ambitious BEV announcements.
Electric Pickup Trucks
We had déjà vu again as more electric pick-up trucks were unveiled in China. This time, Geely and Dongfeng revealed electric pickup trucks, which are designed to be rugged work vehicles. The Dongfeng offering has a reported range of 350 km NEDC.
Electric Bus News
Kyle Field reported on the city of Xi’an’s recent purchase of 200 electric BYD double-deckers, which pushed the city’s total number of electric buses to 3,000! Xi’an is a famous tourist destination due to the Mausoleum of the First Qin Emperor (terracotta army). The 3,000 strong BYD electric bus fleet will help support sustainable tourism at this key Chinese cultural site.
The Shenzhen Communications Commission announced that as of the end of December 94% of all taxis operating in Shenzhen were pure electric taxis. The total number of taxis in Shenzhen is 21,689, of which 21,485 are pure electric. More electric taxis are being prepared for the Shenzhen taxi fleet to bring it closer to the 100% mark.
JAC has created a ride-hailing service/ transportation network company called “和行约车” using its own electric cars. At present, it is only operating in Hefei, Anhui, China, but the service in 2019 is supposed to expand to 10 cities in China and deploy over 10,000 electric vehicles. Within three years, it is supposed to reach 50,000 cars and cover most major cities in China. This is seen as the future of cars — cars becoming a service rather than an individually owned asset.
Steve Hanley reported on a new Volkswagen partnership with Chinese automaker FAW and two other companies to build a fast charging network in China. The new venture is attracting partners in the Chinese automotive sector, including SAIC Motor Corp.
BP, which is more well known as a large oil and petrochemical company, has started expanding its electric vehicle charging network into China. Its first charging station was built in Nanxiang Town, Jiading District, Shanghai. The unit used is an ABB system and uses the national standard 2015 for fast charging.
According to data released by the China Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure Promotion Alliance, in 2018, charging infrastructure grew by 331,000 units, which is higher than in 2017, which had growth of 242,000 units. This brings the overall number of charging units to 777,000. Hmm … interesting.
JD.com, which is a large Chinese online retailer, and the state grid electric vehicle company, which is an arm of China’s state grid company that is dedicated to providing a unified charging provider/payment service in China, have signed a strategic cooperation deal focused on creating an electric car service ecosystem.
Zhang Dandan at China Daily reported on BYD plans to create an independent company to run its battery enterprise so that it can take a larger market share of the battery market. “BYD is scheduled to spin off its automotive battery division into a separate entity, which is expected to be listed by 2022,” said Wang Chuanfu, chairman and founder of BYD.
Steve Hanley reported on the news that the Chinese Passenger Car Association said 22.35 million new cars were sold in China in 2018, which is the first decrease in auto sales in China since 1992. Steve discussed some of the possible reasons for this slowdown, including the ongoing trade war and congestion.
The China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM) also released sales figures from January to December 2018 for new energy vehicles. The figures show that 1.256 million cars were sold in 2018, which is a 61.7% increase year on year.
Jose Pontes also reported on 2018 EV sales, showing that plug-in vehicle market share rose to a record 4.2% of the overall market, and that figure was 8% in the month of December. BAIC had the top selling EV (the EC-Series, which scored 90,637 deliveries), while BYD took home the brand gold medal (20% of PEV sales versus BAIC’s 15% and Roewe’s 7%).
Electric logistics vehicle sales in the first 11 months of 2018 reached 52,100, with over 16,000 of them in Guangdong Province/Shenzhen. 2019 is seen as a year of expansion as over 22 cities have been included in a notice to demonstrate electric logistics vehicles. This, I predict, will create a large jump in the sales of electric trucks.
Joshua Hill reported on China’s State Power Investment Corporation approving the world’s largest onshore wind farm, a 6 gigawatt (GW) wind farm to be developed in Inner Mongolia, China. It will be subsidy-free and is intended to help power Beijing and reduce pollution.
Joshua Hill also reported on the announcement by the Chinese National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) and the Chinese National Energy Agency (NEA) to promote the development of subsidy-free wind and solar projects in China. The NDRC and NEA issued the same press release on January 9, 2019, which addressed the entire country and companies that are key players in the power business. Joshua put this announcement in the context that, in May 2018, the national government put a cap on its solar feed-in tariff (FiT). The aim of the policies is to have wind and solar to be built at a price that they can compete with the coal without any financial help from the central government. Additionally, they are implementing requirements that these projects be built in places where the local government can ensure the power can be utilised locally, which is a shift from previous policies that caused issues related to curtailment and lack of transmission infrastructure.
In a third piece, Joshua Hill reported on the announcement from the Chinese National Energy Administration that China had installed a total of 44.3 gigawatts (GW) of solar in 2018, which is down by 16% from 2017 but was still the largest capacity addition of any country in the world. This brings China’s cumulative solar power capacity to 174.63 GW, the most in the world.
Joshua Hill also reported on a rumour that China’s National Energy Administration is going to restart its national solar subsidy program, but with a 3 gigawatt (GW) cap. This is seen as an interim measure as the country transitions from a subsidy-reliant renewable energy sector to a subsidy-free renewable energy sector.
To close, Joshua Hill reported and discussed China’s energy policy of propping up both clean energy and coal around the world. A report from the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) indicates that China is one of the top lenders for renewable energy projects in other countries, but it also reported that China is providing funding for $35.9 billion or 102 gigawatts (GW) worth of coal projects in 27 countries around the world.