Is "safety" the fate of the new forces that build cars?
Accidents happen frequently, new challenges for Weilai, Ideal and Xiaopeng are coming
Within a few days of November, good and bad news of "new car power" came one after another. The good news is that Weilai, Ideal, and Xiaopeng have respectively released sales bulletins that meet market expectations, showing that sales continue to climb smoothly, which drives stock prices to rise. At the same time, the government issued the "New Energy Vehicle Industry Development Plan (2021-2035)" on November 2 and proposed that by 2025, new energy vehicles will account for 20% of total new vehicle sales, indicating that the market has huge space and the policy is stable.
The bad news is that product problems have burst out one after another. According to the official statistics of Ideal Motors , as of October 31 this year, Ideal ONE had a total of 97 front suspension collision accidents, of which 10 had the front suspension lower arm ball head falling out of the ball pin. To this end, Ideal will provide a "free upgrade" for the product produced before June 1.
In fact, with the increase in the number of market shares, the problems of new car power products have gradually been exposed. It's not just ideal. In October this year, Weimar's products experienced two spontaneous combustion; in August, Xiaopeng's products also broke out on fire; Weilai's growth has been accompanied by negative product news.
Even Tesla, a model of domestic new car forces, has filed a recall plan a few days ago, stating that “when some vehicles are subjected to greater external shocks, the front suspension and rear connecting rod ball head bolts will have initial cracks.” Security risks. Tesla's recall was also criticized by Xinhua News Agency for "throwing the pot" consumers, making things more eye-catching.
Frequent accidents and quality problems have cast a shadow over the "new car forces" that urgently need to break through the sales bottleneck. In fact, the problems exposed by the products of the new car forces cannot be simply attributed to "shallow car-making experience". The links that affect the quality of the whole car can be roughly divided into two parts, design and craftsmanship. There are no obvious shortcomings for workers or self-built factories; whether there are any problems in the design, basic safety issues need to go through a number of tripartite tests before going on the market, and basic problems often need to be gradually discovered after the product is launched on the market , Gradually improve.
More than capacity, what needs to be concerned is whether these issues will affect the reputation of several new car companies, thereby affecting product reputation and even the subsequent sales climb. In fact, investors’ criteria for judging “new car power” have changed. Whether sales can climb smoothly and whether they have the ability to achieve large-scale production and sales in the future has become investors’ consideration of new car companies including Tesla. Important standards. This can be seen from the recent relationship between sales and stock price trends of related companies.
In the long run, whether it is a new energy vehicle or a fuel vehicle is not the final classification method for automobile consumption demand. The real classification method of narrow passenger cars will still return to the traditional and return to their respective market segments, whether it is compact, medium-sized or large-sized. Is it a car, an SUV or an MPV, a luxury brand, or a mid-range brand.
Facing the segmented market with complex automobile demand, the opportunities for new car forces will continue in the short term. However, in the medium and long term, in the pursuit of scale, Weilai is embarking on the road of benchmarking BBA. Xiaopeng and Weimar are comparable to Volkswagen and Toyota. There is no absolute difference between several new car companies. Competitive relations, but how to gain a foothold in their respective fields, the challenges of each company are different.
Is "car-making experience" the fate of Weilai?
The successive problems of the products of the new car forces have stirred up the public's most sensitive nerve for car products-safety.
In fact, car brands are of course fully responsible for the safety of their products, but in the actual car manufacturing process, whether it is a new force or a traditional car dealer, safety issues can be traced back to two links, design and craftsmanship. The design determines whether a product has overall problems, and the craftsmanship determines the consistency of the product and whether any unqualified products leave the factory.
In terms of technology, there are no insurmountable bottlenecks in domestic factories, whether they are self-built or OEM. On the hardware side, domestic vehicle manufacturing plants are often global benchmark factories. On the "software" side, through years of joint ventures, manufacturing workers and management talents in domestic vehicle factories are no longer scarce.
Of course, manufacturing is a very complicated and specific thing. NIO’s products are manufactured by JAC. Xiaopeng Ideally builds its own factory. The fit of the OEM and the management level of the new factory will affect the final process quality. . But in this dimension, there is no unsurpassable boundary between the old and new carmakers.
In terms of design, for new car builders, the difference in design level can be directly reflected in the car experience and will affect the final safety. However, the listing of a new car requires a complicated process, which includes both internal company testing and multiple rounds of mandatory tripartite testing. It is not difficult for safety to reach the passing line.
Judging from the current cases, the problem with the ideal ONE did come from the design, but it did not trigger a mandatory recall of defective products.
As for the two “spontaneous combustions” that occurred in Weimar in October, the authorities have not announced more details. However, according to the recall announcement issued by Weimar through the State Administration of Market Supervision on October 28, the cause of the spontaneous combustion was attributed to electricity. The core supplier ZTE High Energy "incorporated impurities in the production process, causing abnormal lithium evolution in power batteries."
Those below the passing line are called "defects" and those above the passing line are called "problems". The design problems of a brand-new car product need to be collected in the market to improve. Even if it is a traditional car factory, if it launches a product with a brand-new platform and a brand-new chassis, it needs to find problems and fix it after it is introduced to the market, and avoid it in the next generation of products. Nowadays, well-known fuel vehicles are often perfected after multiple rotations. This cannot be understood as an absolute gap between new carmakers and traditional car manufacturers.
Even so, for family cars, safety is one of the most important issues for consumers. Among luxury car brands, Volvo has left its audience with the brand impression of stability and safety, so that it has always been invincible in the BBA. Japanese cars are considered not to be crash resistant and therefore unsafe, which is why many consumers do not choose Japanese cars.
In fact, these conclusions are not supported by statistical data, but the intuitions triggered by the news and car-use feelings eventually converge into consumers' lingering evaluations of car brands.
The century-old brand is still like this, which is even more critical for the new car forces in the brand building period. At present, the problems of the new car forces, if "small mistakes continue", even if "big mistakes are not committed", it is easy to consume users' trust in the brand. If they cannot be properly handled, it will become the curse of future brand building.
Where are the new challenges for Weilai, Ideal and Xiaopeng?
In fact, the current new car-making forces happen to be at the critical stage of brand building and sales climbing, and whether they can survive this stage determines their stock price, sustainable financing ability, and even future survival.
On November 2, the three new car companies couldn't wait to release their sales. In October, Weilai delivered a total of 5,055 new cars. In the same period, it ideally delivered 3,692 new cars, and Xiaopeng delivered 3,040 new cars. In the first ten months of this year, Weilai’s cumulative delivery volume was 31,400, while Ideal and Xiaopeng’s deliveries were 21,900 and 17,100 respectively.
After the October sales bulletin was released, the stock price of Weilai's US stock closed up 8.96% yesterday, the ideal stock price rose 13.44%, and the Xiaopeng stock price rose 6.91%.
In the industry view, the secondary market for sales of new forces make cars more and more sensitive, he said next investment funders have changed the evaluation criteria of the new company repairer. Previously, investors focused on new car-building forces on basic aspects such as whether products can be launched, whether mass production and delivery problems can be solved, whether product consistency can be established, and whether a stable supply chain can be built, but now, Whether it can achieve a sales increase is the next round of competition for the capital market to test new car manufacturers.
"The outside world still expects that the new car power may collapse at any time." An analyst from Minsheng Securities told the Commercial Data School. "The new car power needs to continue to prove to the outside that it has independent viability and a better capital chain, but Both of these need to be achieved through sales climbing."
In fact, the increase in sales has driven large-scale procurement and localized production of parts and components, which is an important step in reducing production costs and realizing a positive gross profit. Take Tesla as an example. After the localization of Tesla, the production cost has dropped significantly, and the cost of raw materials has dropped by 20%-30%. This is considered to be one of the confidence to support the price reduction of Model 3 in China.
More importantly, whether or not sales can climb smoothly is the key to determining the commercial value of new car companies. "The reason why investors are optimistic about the power of new cars is that the auto industry is undergoing changes. These changes give new entrants the opportunity to grow into popular auto companies." The above-mentioned analyst told the "Business Data Group" that in her opinion, if Can not realize the popularization of products, get a real cake in the auto market, even if new car companies survive, they lack investment value.
Take Tesla as an example. For a long time, Tesla has been regarded as a high-tech company and has been highly valued. Nikkei BP once dismantled its products and concluded that Tesla's electronic architecture has been ahead of its rivals for six years.
However, Tesla's stock price continued to rise this year, and even surpassed Toyota to become the world's most valuable car company in June. Behind this round of rise, Tesla has not made key breakthroughs in the fields of electric technology and intelligence. The low-priced, best-selling model 3 is considered the new driving force. Even though Model 3 has undergone several rounds of price reductions, and the domestic price has dropped by nearly 100,000 yuan from the original price, investors did not interpret this as a decline in the competitiveness of Tesla’s products. Instead, they believe that this is a manifestation of its scale value, not anymore. A small number of people "toy" signal. Through localized production, Tesla has also been able to prove that it can become a mass car company, thereby driving market value up.
For new car brands, sales volume and market retention are the key to accumulating reputation and after-sales service capabilities. Even though electric vehicles are less dependent on after-sales than fuel vehicles, compared with other products, cars have a longer life cycle and are still a product that is highly dependent on after-sales services. The large-scale market sales and inventory support after-sales The foundation of the service network, and the after-sales service capability, in turn, is the key to the competitiveness of automotive products.
After nearly 6 years of growth, investors already have higher expectations for new car-building forces. Sales climbability not only affects the financing space, but is also the key to new car-building forces to prove their commercial value.
New car forces have moved to different tracks
In order to expand sales, at the starting stage of the product line and sales scale, Weilai, Ideal, and Xiaopeng chose different tracks, and there is not much competition between them. The diversified needs of automobiles determine that different products have room for survival. But this also leads it to different competition directions.
Although the industry often compares mobile phones with cars, the two are originally different products. Consumers have limited differences in demand for mobile phone hardware, but the differences in demand for cars are directly reflected in the hardware. Different sizes, different levels, and different brands There are separate markets for cars, SUVs, and MPVs in different market segments, which leaves room for differentiated product positioning. Take fuel vehicles as an example. Among traditional car manufacturers, no single product can capture the vast majority of shares in any market segment.
This gives domestic new car companies different choices. Among them, Weilai's current products are aimed at the luxury car market. Weilai currently has three products, the large SUV product ES8, the medium SUV product ES6 and the coupe EC6. The prices of the three cars before subsidies are all 300,000 to 600,000 yuan, which are aimed at the BBA (BMW, Mercedes, Audi) market. However, although there are three products, ES6 is actually a low-profile version of ES8, while EC6 is a coupe version of ES6; the three products for different market segments can share key components and chassis, and improve economies of scale.
Ideal ONE is aimed at the mid-to-high-end market, and the price is also above 300,000 yuan. It has a certain intersection with ES6 and provides products that are more cost-effective than Weilai. However, unlike NIO’s pure electric vehicle, Ideal ONE adopts the extended range technology route. The advantage is that it solves mileage anxiety to a certain extent, which is a pain point in the current new energy vehicle market. The disadvantage is that extended range products still require fuel consumption and cannot be obtained. Government consumption subsidies. But in any case, Ideal ONE has actually entered a different track with Weilai through the difference in technical routes.
Xiaopeng and Weimar start with the mass market. Xiaopeng G3 and Weimar EX5 are priced between 100,000 and 200,000 yuan, which are more targeted at the mobility needs of restricted-licensing cities and the demand for operating vehicles such as online car-hailing. Starting from this range, the two brands continue to launch products of the medium-sized sedans Xiaopeng P7 and Weimar Mavens. They are benchmarking the Tesla Model 3 market and adopt a cost-effective approach with Tesla. The price is about 30,000 low. More space and longer cruising range.
This follow-up strategy has achieved obvious results. By cutting into the market nurtured by Model 3, the sales volume of Xiaopeng P in July is close to 3,000. According to statistics from the Passenger Association in September, it is the only sales volume among the new car manufacturers to enter the top ten. Model. However, Xiaopeng P7 targets the 200,000-300,000 car market, no matter in the model or the price range, there is no intersection with Weilai and ideals.
The different starting product strategies also allowed the three companies to enter the direction of constructing different brand competitiveness.
In fact, from the perspective of automakers, there are currently two competitive strategies for auto brands. The first is a cost-effective strategy, which covers all market segments and expands sales on the consumer side to achieve economies of scale. There is only one goal, which is to reduce car prices and build price barriers. Under this strategy, Toyota and Volkswagen, the world's largest car companies, were born.
The second is the luxury brand strategy, which requires more powerful marketing to achieve brand tonality, and even requires the historical and cultural accumulation of the brand to form a differentiated perception. Among traditional car companies, luxury brands such as BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi are such brands.
At present, the industry generally believes that Xiaopeng and Weimar are moving towards a cost-effective strategy, while Weilai is moving into a luxury brand strategy. Li Bin has made no secret on many occasions that his goal is to squeeze into "BBA" and change it to "NBA".
Different way to get started, is not directed to several car prices fellow road. Xiaopeng focuses on products. Although there are only two products at present, they are divided into compact and medium-sized cars. These two levels cannot share the chassis, but different levels of chassis can derive multiple models with the same level and different positioning. Therefore, Xiaopeng has the ability to achieve rapid coverage in compact and mid-level car products.
In contrast, although Weilai has three products, they are actually mid-level cars. They are three models derived from the same level of chassis. Among the compact models, Weilai has not yet launched a product, which requires a new chassis. At the same time, Weilai puts more energy on marketing. In order to build brand tonality, Weilai invests more resources in product design, building and operation of the car circle.
On the whole, among the new car-making forces, Xiaopeng and Weimar are going on the road of Toyota and Volkswagen. The more direct competition in China will come from BYD, BAIC, and SAIC Volkswagen and FAW-Volkswagen , which have recently put into production on the MEB platform . It will even be a direct competitor of Tesla's domestically produced prices after continuing to cut prices. NIO's ideal competitors are BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Audi, and Tesla.
In fact, the current new energy vehicle is still an incremental market. Globally, the sales of electric vehicles in the first three quarters of this year was 1.784 million. Although it achieved a year-on-year increase of 11%, the market penetration rate was only 3.4%. In China, the current overall penetration rate of new energy vehicles is only 5%. If calculated according to the planned 20% penetration rate in 2025, the sales of new energy vehicles in the narrow passenger car market should reach 4 million in 4 years. Above, there is still room for net growth of nearly 3 million vehicles.
Incremental market, different products and brand track, make Weilai, Ideal, and Xiaopeng not have much competitive relationship with each other. This may be why the three founders of Li Bin, Li Xiang and He Xiaopeng can sit together Let's talk about the reasons for the chuckle. On the contrary, in the process of building scale advantages in their respective fields, the three biggest competitors are traditional car companies that are gradually awakening.
At present, Weilai, Ideal, and Xiaopeng have sold 3,000 units for two consecutive months, and the sales volume will continue to climb for a period of time. However, in the broader market, the competitors of Xiaopeng and Weimar will be almost all mainstream car companies. As a new brand, how to transform the first-mover advantage over Toyota and Volkswagen into product and scale advantages will The problem faced.
Competition experience from the previous decade own brand cars in view, the difference in manufacturing level no longer exists, but the core technology, product brand letter to any degree and is the main channel service capabilities Vital face its joint venture brand competition. In the field of electric vehicles, Xiaopeng and Weimar are on the same starting line as Volkswagen and Toyota in terms of core technology. However, Toyota and Volkswagen have scale advantages in terms of brand trust and channel service capabilities. Today, at the end of October, SAIC Volkswagen’s 17 billion yuan MEB plant has been put into production in Shanghai, and ID series products have begun to appear. This is obviously the biggest threat to Xiaopeng, Weimar and even Tesla in the domestic market.
For new car power, user reputation is the key to affecting consumers' brand confidence. With the increase of brand market retention and user usage time, even the small accident probability will increase with the total amount. At this stage, cherish the exposed problems and better solve them, which will be the lowest cost and the least hidden danger Program.
For the higher-end market, the greater the influence of brand marketing, the higher the threshold. In contrast, Weilai’s pain point lies here, and it is also more difficult than Xiaopeng and Weimar. It can be seen from the previous competition of luxury brands that even if Toyota’s Lexus, Nissan’s Infiniti, and Honda’s Acura are not inferior in terms of technical strength, marketing investment continues to increase, and they still wear the curse of “second-tier luxury brands” and cannot compete with BBA competes.
The lack of brand accumulation is precisely because of this. Weilai has previously placed high costs in brand marketing. Although the marketing is not cost-effective, it has also gained a certain market recognition and initially established a car circle culture. However, the domestic market competitiveness of Tesla is getting stronger and stronger. The domestic launch of a number of BBA pure electric models is on the line, and the test of NIO is constantly refreshed.
The matter of building a car has changed. Since 2014, building a car has become the most desirable thing for entrepreneurs. Not only are successful entrepreneurs working hard to start their second and third ventures, but countless "grassroots" teams have also begun to move around, as if the threshold of building a car was suddenly pulled to non-existent. But facts have proved that there are indeed barriers to building cars, and it limits most players. Li Bin, the founder and chairman of Weilai Automobile , once said that an electric car company needs at least 20 billion yuan to reach mass production. Xiaopeng Motors Chairman He Xiaopeng also sighed: "It used to be an exaggeration to see others making cars. I jumped in and realized that 20 billion is not enough to spend.” In the end, the new car-building forces ran out of three first-tier players, but at the same time it also made people realize how difficult it is for a new company to build cars. People's attit
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