In April, EV startup Skywell Automobile was renamed Skyworth Automobile to distinguish itself from one of the shareholders (who already manufactures buses under the Skywell brand) only to get the name of another shareholder (Skyworth Holding, which is a home appliance manufacture). I felt a bit bad when I called them the most confusing Chinese brand because of that. Well, now I don’t anymore. Upon launch of its highly anticipated Skyworth ET5, they announced the actual name will be Skyworth EV6.
Hongqi is an iconic brand best known for its large state limousines for politicians and wealthy business people. When the first Hongqi L5 sedan debuted in 2014, it was the most expensive Chinese car. The price was 5 million yuan ( $760 000). Hongqi is also one of the oldest Chinese automakers and is connected with the country more than others. The Hongqi in English means Red Flag, and the brand is perceived almost as patriotic. Also, the automaker claimed the Hongqi characters on the 2014 L5 rear are in Mao’s handwriting.
This weekend happened the 21st auto show called poetically Guangdong-Hongkong-Macao Great Bay International Auto Show in Shenzhen. MG6 XPower launched there on Saturday for 199 800 yuan ($31 000). As our readers know, MG launches so many variants and updates of MG6 that we just ignore most of them, but this one is special. The last time MG used the XPower label was in 2005 on its V8 5.0L sports car. At that time, it was still in British hands; SAIC became the owner of MG brand two years later, in 2007.
It wouldn’t be a good day without another Chinese EV startup. Radten (Chinese name Ruiteng) is a brand of Chery Automobile. This week they officially opened its factory in Shijiazhuang, roughly 300km from Bejing in Hebei province. The full name of the automaker is Hebei Ruiteng New Energy Automobile Co. The English name is Radten Motors. The first car is called RT1, and they claim it is near the mass production version and will launch it in the second half of the year.
The plant’s annual capacity is 100 000 cars. It seems Chinese EV startups still didn’t learn not to scale too early too fast. Having a vast empty plant because ‘who knows, maybe we will jump from 0 to 100 000 cars in a year’ is still a popular mindset in China.
Xpeng CEO He Xiaopeng claimed at the China Auto Bluebook Forum in June that a profitable smart vehicle can’t be less than 150 000 yuan ($23 000).
“It is impossible to make an intelligent car if it was priced lower than 150 thousand yuan because smart capabilities are always on track of progress,” Mr. He said.
Enovate is a new EV brand from China. It took them only one mass-produced car (ME7) before changing their name to Enoreve. Chinese name remains the same (天际). On July 13, they launched their second car, Enoreve ME5, with a price tag of 149 900 yuan ($23 000) and 1012 km range.
HiPhi is a brand of Chinese EV maker Human Horizons. Recently they applied to the Chinese Intellectual Property Office for a patent of a brand new model. HiPhi has only one model on sale so far called HiPhi X. It received lots of attention after launch as it was the most expensive made-in-China car. The base model started at 680 thousand yuan (105 thousand USD), and the enhanced Founders edition cost 800 thousand yuan (123 thousand USD).
Yesterday leaked the documents exposing the price and configuration of a new SUV Lynk & Co 09. It will start at 299 800 yuan (46 000 USD).
Lynk & Co is a brand owned by Chinese Geely, the same company that also owns Volvo. There is lots of technology sharing between Volvo and Lynk & Co. The difference is that Lynk & Co is positioned as a cool trendy brand focused on millennials. My colleague Tycho sometimes even hesitate to write about it because we are so much less cool than they are. So I took over today, as in the end we always realize, it is all job of a desperate PR manager who tries all tricks he knows to differentiate on the crazy crowded and competitive Chinese market.
Today Tesla announced on its Chinese website the official launch of the Model Y Standard Range and started accepting reservations. The starting price for the Standard Range version is 276 thousand RMB (42 500 USD). The range is 525 km, the top speed 217km/h, and acceleration 0-100km/h is in 5.6 seconds.
Li Auto is one of the three most visible Chinese EV startups listed on the US exchange. Despite having only one model on sale – which is not even a pure EV (Li One is plug-in-hybrid) – they gained popularity from both Chinese customers and overseas investors. Li One was presented as a nice family SUV with great built-in quality and has sold more than 50 000 pcs so far. Now it faces customer backlash over mercury globules – toxic heavy metal – found inside its cars.