Will China’s fragmented and somewhat messy New Energy Vehicle market be cleaned up soon by the creation of a national champion? The question might be premature, but it gained impetus today with announcement that the country’s biggest real-estate developer, Shenzhen-based China Evergrande, had teamed up with the State Grid Corp to create a network of electric-vehicle (EV) charging stations, reports Caixin Global.
State Grid made the announcement, saying it has set up a RMB180 million 50-50 joint venture with the technology arm of Evergrande Group to combine its near-monopoly electricity distribution resources and Evergrande’s property management expertise.
RMB180 million is peanuts for these companies, of course. But it is a strategically vital partnership. While China has in recent years been seeing the world’s biggest EV market built out from scratch by dozens of startup companies, the country is struggling to build the supporting infrastructure to recharge e-cars, with high costs, low usage and a lack of national safety standards all causing roadblocks.
An insider at a state-owned EV-maker said that so far, state-owned charging stations have mostly been in public places such as expressways, but the joint venture with Evergrande will allow State Grid to “plan better” in residential spaces.
Let’s see if we understand this well enough: The country’s biggest landlord is partnering with the national grid to put stations into or nearby people’s homes that will, presumably, be based on technology supporting the cars being built by an Evergrande subsidiary, the same subsidiary that is constructing a massive new EV production facilityin Nansha, where it plans to output more than 1 million cars annually by 2021.When will Evergrande’s tech subsidiary be spun off and listed on a public exchange? That is the question Tesla’s Elon Musk and others in the industry should be asking themselves. We don’t know enough about Evergrande’s car models yet. The first is based on technology from Sweden’s Saab. But this sounds like a story worth watching.