The 2018 Beijing Motor Show has brought several new xEV models from Asian and European brands into the spotlight. Jianghuai Volkswagen Automotive, a joint venture between JAC and Volkswagen Group, unveiled SOL, their new electric-only brand. The first model will be the SOL E20X, a small electric SUV with a 300km range which is expected to be on the market in Q3 2018.
Great Wall Motors introduced a fourth brand to its portfolio with the launch of ORA, its EV-focused brand. Standing for Open Reliable Alternative, ORA will be introduced initially in the Chinese market and is expected to start selling in late 2018. Besides its electric powertrain, ORA’s line-up promises level-3 autonomy. An EV sports car from Qiantu Motor is slated as a Tesla-competitor, albeit a costlier US$111,000, with production starting in July 2018.
Nissan unveiled the new all-electric Sylphy. The model will be strictly dedicated to the Chinese market and is to be built locally at one of Nissan’s five Chinese plants. The Sylphy, known in China and North America under the Sentra name, is not a bespoke electric model; it will instead share the same architecture and 40kWh battery pack with the Leaf. Honda also unveiled a China-specific concept electric car dedicated entirely to car sharing. The Honda brand Everus EV will be built under a joint venture between Honda and local automaker GAC. The Everus will be operated in conjunction with Reachstar, a car-sharing company Honda has invested in.
BMW launched its pure-electric iX3 crossover concept. A 70kWh battery will power this model although it is not expected to begin production until 2020. Volvo also announced that half of its sales would be fully electric by 2025, going beyond its 2019 target to have every new model hybrid or fully electric. In June 2018, Volvo relaunched its Polestar performance brand as an EV-focused company, aiming to release five fully-electric models between 2019 and 2021, three under the Volvo brand and two under Polestar.
Roskill view: Auto OEMs started the EV race two years ago by setting ambitious targets of up to 4M electric cars by 2020. In 2017 and 2018, more specific decisions focussed on the realisation of these targets, with more aggressive Chinese mandates further boosting the plan. Roskill forecasts that 2.5M plug-in vehicles will be sold in 2020, although non-plug-in hybrids and other lower hybridisation vehicles will likely total around 7M cars by then. This will likely require 70GWh of lithium-ion batteries. Announcements of new xEV models are positive for consumers but battery supply chain investments and raw material supply security remain an issue, with Volvo the latest OEM to highlight lithium as a raw material they need to watch, yet not one they wish to invest in the production of.