Newsflash: BYD wil ook in Europa auto’s gaan bouwen


+++ Chinese technology company and vehicle manufacturer BYD is considering localised production of its electric cars to better serve the European market, having confirmed its Han saloon, Tang SUV and Atto 3 crossover for sale in the region within the next 4 months. The cars are currently built in BYD’s home city of Shenzhen, China’s 4th most populous city, from where they will initially be exported to the global markets it is targeting as part of a massive global expansion plan: Scandinavia, Germany, Benelux, the United Kingdom and Israel. But Brian Yang, assistant general manager of BYD Europe, said the prospect of manufacturing cars locally was “interesting”. Asked where BYD could establish a production facility in Europe, Yang said: “We don’t have a solid plan. We’ve just started to learn, to really understand the beliefs of our customers, and if everything goes well and we build up all the foundations and structure here, that could lead to some localisation”. He added: “It will be done step by step”. BYD hopes to capture a significant market share in Europe from Tesla and is arriving with a trio of models conceived carefully to go up against the American brand’s core models. (The Tesla Model 3-rivalling Seal is expected to come to Europe following its imminent Chinese market launch). But Tesla has an advantage in the region, not just because it has been selling EVs in Europe for over a decade, but also because it is now producing cars at scale in a new factory near Berlin. Although its commissioning was heavily delayed, the €5 billion Berlin plant has quickly become integral to Tesla’s global output and is estimated to have an annual capacity of 500.000 units. That’s in addition to the roughly 500.000-unit capacity of its Fremont, California factory, the 750.000 cars produced at its Shanghai site each year and the estimated 520.000 cars it will build annually in Texas. BYD sold 641.350 ‘new energy vehicles’ (NEVs) in the first half of 2022, a figure that includes a limited number of plug-in hybrids and hydrogen vehicles, compared with Tesla’s 564.000 units and it plans to increase output exponentially over the coming months to sell 2 million NEVs by the end of the year. But despite healthy output from its five existing Chinese factories, BYD stands to gain heavily from opening a European factory, both in slashing lead times for local customers and cutting shipping costs. What remains to be seen is whether BYD would build cars in Europe and ship its own lithium iron phosphate batteries in from China or build a facility that could produce both for European markets. There are opportunities to be explored in terms of platform sharing, too. BYD is already working with Toyota to develop affordable EVs for the Chinese market and Yang said the firm is “quite open” to the prospect of offering its new e-Platform 3.0 architecture for use by other manufacturers. “We are quite open to the whole industry. We are not competitors. We can work together to really grow the whole EV market. This is our philosophy”, Yang said. Yang stopped short of naming any potential brands that could work with BYD, but several EVs due on sale in Europe in 2023 and 2024 (including the Smart #1, the next-generation Mini EV and the Volvo ‘XC20’) use platforms developed by Chinese companies. European production could facilitate a similar arrangement between BYD and a European marque, which could take advantage of vastly reduced development and manufacturing costs, and the added benefit that the vehicles would not need importing. BYD is not the first Chinese brand to suggest it could build cars in Europe. Last year, William Li, chairman of rival EV brand Nio, said: “I believe if we have a lot of sales in the European market, we can also explore the other possibilities to work with other supply chain partners. I understand that in Europe, there is manufacturing capacity. We can also explore the possibility to work together with other OEMs and to discuss joint manufacturing with them”. However, the firm has made no indication since that it is progressing with plans to build cars in Europe. +++

+++ FORD said on Wednesday it is delaying its production investments in Spain, citing a “revised outlook for Europe” but said it remained committed to its plant in Valencia, where it announced plans in June to produce electric vehicles (EVs). The U.S. carmaker said in a statement it will not ask for a share of Spain’s EU pandemic relief funds to invest in the roll-out of EVs by June 2025, but said it will work with local authorities to identify other potential public funding as it moves to an all-electric fleet of passenger vehicles by 2030. Ford did not give further details on its revised outlook for Europe. It said earlier this week it will cut a total of 3.000 salaried and contract jobs, mostly in North America and India. No jobs will be cut at its plant in Valencia for now, a Ford Spain spokesperson said, although the carmaker has long said there will be some restructuring of its workforce as electric cars require fewer labour hours to assemble. Both UGT union and Spain’s Industry Ministry played down the investment delay, noting that it does not affect Ford’s plan to produce EVs in Spain. “The Spanish government maintains its commitment to support Ford in its current and future investments in Spain”, the Industry Ministry said in a statement. Ford had applied in May for Spain’s EU pandemic relief funds and had been allocated 106 million euros in a first provisional allotment, but withdrew its application on Tuesday ahead of a deadline for potential changes, the Ministry said. +++

+++ HONDA said on Thursday it would slash production plans by up to 40% in Japan early in September due to persistent supply chain and logistical issues. The news comes even Japanese automakers have been cautiously optimistic that chips shortage that caused repeated production cutback is easing. Its assembly plant in Saitama prefecture, north of Tokyo, will cut production by about 40% early next month. 2 lines at its Suzuka plant in western Japan will reduce production plans by about 30% in early September. Honda blamed delays in receiving parts and logistics due to Covid-19 and semiconductor shortages. It would affect production of a variety of vehicles such as the HR-V, the Stepwgn minivan and the Civic. The Saitama plant and the Suzuka plant would cut production by about 10% and 30%, respectively, for the rest of the month, the automaker said. Honda adjusted its production plan in May but had said it would return to normal in early June. Honda’s rival, Toyota, remained bullish on its production plan, maintaining its record 9.7 million global vehicle production target for the current financial year ending in March 2023 and saying production and sales outlook would improve from August onwards. Toyota said this month it expected to produce about 850.000 vehicles globally in September and would seek to raise production through November, depending on supplies of parts and personnel. +++

+++ The KOENIGSEGG CC850 is sold out. That’s completely unsurprising, as these special supercars are snapped up almost as fast as a Jesko’s transmission can shift. But what’s interesting is that the company sold the 50-unit run so quickly, it ended up deciding to expand the production run by almost half. Instead of just 50 cars, Koenigsegg announced it would expand the run by another 20. According to the company, that initial allocation sold fast enough that a number of long-time Koenigsegg customers missed out on a chance at the supercar. It ended up going back to some early order holders to check if they would be all right with the expansion, and obviously it must’ve gone over fine. The 50-unit run was based on founder and owner Christian von Koenigsegg’s 50th birthday. The extra 20 was based on the 20th anniversary of the company’s first production car, the CC8S. That’s also the same car that the CC850 is celebrating with its manual-ized version of the nine-speed automatic Light Speed Transmission and more than 1.000 hp. +++


+++ MERCEDES is putting the final touches on the updated CLA coupé and shooting brake ahead of an official unveiling next summer. New photographs of lightly disguised prototypes testing in Germany show a slightly refreshed front end maintaining the current car’s aggressive air ducts and prominent grille. The upper segment of the LED daytime running lights has been sharpened up and split into two bars, while the lower portion has been shifted closer to the grille, divided into two parallelogram-shaped blocks. Similar changes feature at the rear; the tail lights have been redesigned with an L-shaped central light blade that spans the width of the lens, but the rest of the unit appears unchanged. Non-AMG-line versions of both the coupé and shooting brake also receive updated plastic trim adorning the lower bumper, although the camouflage means it is unclear how this has changed. Both AMG-line cars pictured receive the same twin faux-exhaust design and slotted diffuser as is present on the existing CLA. Every prototype CLA we spotted was equipped with Mercedes’ Night Pack, which replaces various chrome trim pieces (including around the windows and diffuser) with a piano-black finish. This could indicate the brand is moving away from its previously extensive use of chrome, in line with French premium brand DS, which decided to reduce its use of chrome (starting with the DS 7 facelift) because its production emits a lot of CO2, and because mainstream brands were beginning to use it in abundance. The CLA lineup (ranging from the 136 hp CLA 180 to the 421 hp Mercedes-AMG CLA 45 S) is unlikely to change. The AMG model may get a slight power boost, while the CLA 250e plug-in hybrid could get a slight improvement to its official 70 km electric-only range (for the coupé). When asked about the updated CLA, Mercedes-Benz declined to comment. The German marque is expected to confirm technical details closer to the car’s official reveal. Pricing is expected to increase across the board to reflect the limited supply of cars caused by the semiconductor chip shortage. +++

+++ Even Ford has been surprised by the success of the MUSTANG MACH-E . The automaker has even postponed production of the platform-twinned Explorer and Lincoln Aviator EVs by 18 months in order to crank out more Mach-Es at the Cuautitlan, Mexico, plant. Orders for the 2022 Mach-E closed back in April, but Ford is about to re-open orders for 2023 models. Some changes, small ones for convenience and big ones for pricing, are going to accompany that occasion. First, the moolah. The entry spec Mach-E, in both RWD and AWD drivetrains, has gone up by $3,000. Premium trims jump by $5,875 in both 2WD and AWD layouts. Meanwhile, some extended-range AWD models are seeing the biggest leaps. The GT AWD extended range rockets up by $7,900. All Mach-E’s will be getting the Ford Co-Pilot360 standard, but base models will only have BlueCruise for a 90-day trial before subscriptions are required. Ford attributes the price increases to supply chain issues and cost of materials that have made the Mach-E more expensive to build. +++

+++ There are more electric vehicles on the road than ever before, and most automakers have committed considerable sums to direct their manufacturing might to build EVs. An Australian bank recently implemented a policy to STOP ISSUING LOANS for new gasoline and diesel cars in 2025, intended to prevent customers from being locked in with gas-guzzling cars as the automotive world changes. Bank Australia Chief Impact Officer Sasha Courville released a statement that said, in part, “Ultimately, our announcement today is the beginning of a conversation with our customers and a signal to the wider market that if you’re considering buying a new car, you should seriously think about an electric vehicle, both for its impact on the climate and for its lifetime cost savings”. The decision won’t take effect until 2025, and once it does, the bank will only issue loans on used gas cars until the market offers a reasonable number of used electric vehicles. The bank also has a goal to reach net-zero emissions by 2035. Australians are warming to the idea of electric vehicles, but they still represent a tiny portion of the country’s overall auto market. Tesla is the most popular EV brand in the country, but several automakers, including Nissan, Mini, BMW and MG, sell electric models there. We’re likely to start seeing arrangements of this type becoming more common as time passes. Automakers including Ford, VW, General Motors, and others have stated goals to shift large portions of their sales to EVs, and some have committed to a complete transition. Since many customers rely on in-house financing to purchase a new car, the automakers’ financing arms may make a similar decision to cease loans on internal combustion vehicles. +++

+++ ZEEKR Intelligent Technology is considering an initial public offering and has asked investment banks for proposals, according to people familiar with the situation. The Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co.-backed company is exploring listing venues including the U.S. and Hong Kong and hasn’t decided on the IPO size, the people said, asking not to be named as the information is private. The EV maker is the latest firm backed by billionaire Li Shufu looking to tap the growing investor appetite for the sector. Geely is considering a Hong Kong IPO for its ride-hailing firm Cao Cao Mobility as soon as next year. The timeline for a potential listing hasn’t been set, and Zeekr could opt to raise another round of funding first, the people said. L Catterton Asia, the regional arm of the consumer-focused private equity firm, has expressed interest in participating in any future fundraising, they said. The EV brand raised $500 million in its first external funding round led by Intel Capital last year, valuing it at about $9 billion. CATL, the world’s biggest EV battery maker, online entertainment group Bilibili and private equity firm Boyu Capital also participated. Zeekr has no plan for a new funding round and declined to comment on its IPO plans, a representative for Geely said in response to a query. ECarx Holdings, the automotive tech firm backed by Li, in May agreed to go public through a merger with blank-check company Cova Acquisition in what could be the largest Chinese listing in the US since Didi Global. The deal values the combined company at about $3.8 billion. Founded in 2021, Zeekr positions itself as a premium EV brand that targets younger, trendier customers in China. It has sold about 20.000 cars since October. The EV maker plans to introduce 6 different models within 5 years, aiming for annual sales of 650.000 units by 2025. Geely Automobile Holdings has an indirect stake in the EV brand. +++

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