Two of Shenzhen’s best-known brands are surging ahead in production of New Energy Vehicles. One of them just happens to be a property developer that is currently reinventing itself as a tech company.
According to local media, China Evergrande has begun mass production of its first new-energy vehicle just six months after unveiling plans to enter the industry. This is not thanks to home-grown brilliance, of course. It is thanks to Swedish technology, which was bought [note to the Trump Administration: not stolen] as part of the company’s purchase of a Swedish electric-car company that has designs from the now-defunct Saab brand.
The Evergrande subsidiary producing the cars is NEVS (National Electric Vehicle Sweden), which has begun production of a Saab 9-3 derived electric vehicle. The factory in Tianjin is capable of assembling 50,000 units per year.
According to a report in a European news site, specifications of the electrified Saab 9-3, which is now called NEVS 9-3 (or NEVS 9-3X in case of the estate version) are unknown. The car will be produced only for the Chinese market – there are no plans to export it to the rest of Asia, Europe or North America.
As reported recently, Evergrande has major ambitions for the NEV market. It has secured land in Guangzhou’s Nansha district for three large-scale production, design and R&D facilities, with the aim of outputting 1 million vehicles annually by 2022. Currently, China has only 2.3 million electric vehicles on the roads, but production is ramping up this year.
Across town, meanwhile, BYD, the Buffet-backed car company that produces mostly battery-powered cars and buses, is seeing its sales surge. And this is before the latest relaxation of government curbs on the vehicle industry that were designed to stoke demand.
BYD sold 26,571 NEVs in June, up 55% YoY. That brought sales in the first half of this year, to 145,653 units, up 94.5% YoY.
BYD announced six new electric-powered vehicle models at the Shanghai auto show earlier in April. The company reportedly plans to offer a wide range of options, including sedans and sport utility vehicles.
It is potentially a huge market to vie for. Shenzhen’s city government has set the pace for adoption of electric vehicles, making its entire taxi and bus fleets zero-emission. Beijing has recently said it will follow suit, and now it seems every major city is lining up to do the same. Even third-tier cities such as Jiangmen, on the western side of the Greater Bay, have announced they will move to EV-only public transport.