Chinese electric vehicle (EV) sales achieved a strong momentum over the past two years, reporting robust figures in January. They are expected to reach 5.5 million units this year. Tesla ended 2021 with a solid profit performance driven by both strong consumer demand in China and Europe, and cost improvement from expanded production in its Shanghai factory. Battery maker CATL retained its competitive lead, dominating the global EV market last year, followed by a group of smaller domestic competitors. BYD’s chip unit is racing the clock to complete an initial public offering in the mainland stock market, thanks to explosive growth in EV sales amid a worldwide chip shortage.
January EV sales signal a strong 2022
News: China’s electric vehicle market remains buoyant despite the seasonal holiday slowdown and the looming impact of the recent subsidy reductions. January retail sales of new energy vehicles (NEVs), including all-electrics, plug-in hybrids, and hydrogen cars, totaled 347,000 units and a 132% yearly increase, according to figures published by the China Passenger Car Association (CPCA). However, this figure is a 27% decline from last December, as China auto sales in January and February tend to be affected by the Lunar New Year holiday (roughly the first two weeks of February this year) when consumers often delay purchases and automakers halt production, the industry group said.
Insights: The market was relatively flat during the first half of January due to a last-minute push by automakers to get their cars delivered in December. Yet sales recovered fairly quickly during the last two weeks of the month, said Cui Dongshu, secretary general of the CPCA. Cui remained positive about the impact of Beijing’s 30% subsidy cut on EVs, with CPCA affirming its previous forecast of 5.5 million vehicle passenger EV sales in China this year. Although multiple automakers have raised prices for their EVs just enough to offset the subsidy cut, Cui expects overall EV prices to maintain relatively stable, as automakers have been taking various measures such as diversifying sourcing of parts to reduce costs.
News link: TechNode
Tesla posts second profitable year as Shanghai factory reaches full capacity
News: Riding a wave of growing customer interest for green energy vehicles, Tesla on Jan. 26 posted a profit for the second year in a row. It ended 2021 with a net profit of $5.5 billion, a more than sixfold yearly increase. Annual deliveries also surged 87% in the year, marking the fastest pace of growth since 2019, thanks to strong sales in China and Europe. The US EV giant expects to achieve 50% annual growth in vehicle deliveries “over a multiyear horizon,” while warning that the ongoing global chip shortage could dent its production output “across all factories” this year.
Insights: Rising demand in China has been a key driver for Tesla’s growth. The total sales of Chinese-made vehicles reached 484,130 units last year, accounting for over half of its global deliveries, China Passenger Car Association (CPCA) data shows. The company’s Shanghai factory also plays a prominent role for its global expansion, becoming a “main export hub” with a shipment of around 163,000 vehicles last year to EU, Japan, among other regions, said Tesla’s financial chief Zachary Kirkhorn during its fourth-quarter earnings call.
Now, as EVs continue their current growth trajectory, Tesla has planned to invest RMB 1.2 billion ($188 million) to increase the production staff of the Gigafactory Shanghai by a quarter to about 19,000, Bloomberg reported in November citing sources. The Shanghai plant, which began deliveries in late 2019, was designed to produce up to 500,000 vehicles annually and has been regularly running at a capacity of 450,000 units per year.
News link: TechCrunch
Battery giant CATL’s dominance unabated in China’s EV boom
News: CATL’s dominance of the EV battery market has continued unabated. It retained its top spot as the world’s biggest battery vendor last year, thanks to an accelerated shift of consumers embracing EVs in China. The Chinese battery giant supplied 96.7 gigawatt-hours (GWh) equivalents of EV batteries in 2021, representing a 167% yearly increase. It commands a 32.6% global market share, according to data compiled by market tracker SNE Research. South Korea’s LG Energy Solution came in second with 60.2 GWh, while Chinese auto major BYD ran a distant fourth with 26.3 GWh. Smaller Chinese players Gotion High-Tech, CALB, AESC, and SVOLT all rank lower in the world’s top 10 battery makers and form a combined market share of around 8%.
Insights: This has been the fifth year CATL retained its position as the world’s biggest battery maker, buoyed by a rebound in EV demand in its home market in 2021. A total of 150 GWh of battery capacity were deployed into newly sold NEVs in China last year. That number is expected to grow by over 50% year on year to 230 GWh in 2022, according to a Jan.12 report published by Chinese brokerage Huaan Securities.
The battery maker is also quickly expanding its manufacturing capacity to meet a surging demand. In December, it kicked off production at its largest plant to date in Fuding, a city in the eastern Fujian province, with a designed capacity of 120 GWh per year.
News link: TechNode
BYD’s chip unit to list on Shenzhen stock market
News: The chip unit of Chinese automaker BYD is racing to go public with an offering that could raise as much as RMB 2 billion ($314.4 million), after getting a green light from the Shenzhen Stock Exchange. The listing is expected in the next few months and it would become the first auto chipmaker to list in China. BYD Semiconductor became an independent subsidiary of the Chinese EV giant in April 2020 and mainly develops less advanced chips such as microcontrollers (MCUs) used for controlling simple functions in cars. The company has become China’s biggest MCU manufacturer with nearly two decades of chip-making experience, Chinese media Caixin reported last month, citing analysis from market research firm Omdia.
Insights: The imminent listing comes at a time when the Chinese EV industry has seen a strong rebound in demand, despite significant disruption due to the global chip shortage over the past year. BYD Semiconductor estimated its net profit will jump by up to 574% yearly to RMB 395 million in 2021. Revenues are projected to reach an upper limit of RMB 3.2 billion, an 122% increase from 2020. However, the company is still a tiny player in the global automotive MCU sector, which is dominated by Japan’s Renasas and six other chip powerhouses with a combined market share of 98%, according to figures from information services company IHS Markit.
And yet, investors have high expectations for the subsidiary. It has already raised RMB 2.8 billion from a list of big names including Xiaomi’s industry investment fund, Sequoia Capital China, and CICC Capital prior to the IPO filing. BYD’s stake will fall from 72% to 65% after the listing is completed.
News link: TechNode