The Chinese Are Coming - #33

China at CES: Large Numbers, Lower Profile

Page 1: China at CES: Large Numbers, Lower Profile
Page 2: Next Stop: China Genius Series in Detroit
Conclusion: Five Predictions for 2019

Step into the capacious Las Vegas Convention Center and you are instantly surrounded by people on the move, bright lights, and imposing music. The concentration of brainpower is palpable. Impossible to miss conclusion: Things are happening here. 

Especially Chinese things. While there has been a decrease in Chinese vendors compared to last year’s CES, there are still more than 1,200 Chinese firms here, accounting for 25% of all exhibitors. Only the US has more. No wonder the Chinese refer with a chuckle to CES as the Chinese Electronics Show., Alibaba, Meituan, Suning, Baidu and Huawei are all present. So are important but less well-known autonomous tech companies like, TuSimple and Innovusion. Several companies showed versions of autonomous delivery vehicles, which are already finding their way onto Chinese university campuses and tech parks.  There are even some surprising first-timers like the massive state enterprise, First Auto Works. 

But talk to the companies and you can also feel one major difference from last year:  The Chinese are keeping a much lower profile amidst the sustained trade tensions with the US. 

In 2018, the chief executives from Huawei and Baidu delivered ambitious and bold keynotes at CES. Not so in 2019. Tencent, China's most valuable company is not present Nor is NIO, one of China's most advanced electric and connected automakers.

(pictured above, Byton’s M-Byte)

One company that bucked the lay-low-for-now trend was BYTON, the autonomous electric start-up funded by Suning and CATL. This week, I spoke with co-founders Carsten Breitfeld and Daniel Kirchert who confirmed that BYTON is advancing on all fronts: 

– Production of the M-Byte SUV will begin in Nanjing in Q4.
– The K-Byte sedan will be ready in 2020. 
– Byton has already taken orders for 40,000 vehicles from Chinese consumers. 
– Exports to Europe and the US will follow in 2020. 
– Byton is working with Amazon Alexa for voice commands. 
– Byton is also developing Level 4 autonomous driving capabilities with Aurora.  

Key Point: EV start-ups like BYTON (and rival NIO) represent a new kind of species in the automotive world: Chinese companies with global DNA.  More and more Chinese firms like BYTON and NIO run operations worldwide that capture best-in-class talents: They operate in California (for tech), Munich (for design), London (for engineering) and China (for manufacturing). 

Chinese companies continue to cultivate deeper roots in these centers of global tech and talent. And they hope that the trade tensions soon subside.  


Next Stop: China Genius Series in Detroit

Speaking of deeper roots, our ZoZo Go directory of Chinese auto and auto-tech investments  is now up to 107 Chinese firms operating coast to coast from Silicon Valley to South Carolina. 

Come join my ZoZo Go colleagues and me to learn more about who these companies are and what they are pursuing at the first annual China Genius Series event: 

The China Genius Series
Timing: January 17th. 
Venue: Renaissance Center
Speakers: NIO, Byton, Yanfeng, Karma, Sanhua, , WeRide, U of M Center for Chinese Studies 
Produced by: Automotive News and ZoZo Go

Auto News Detroit.jpg

Five Predictions for 2019:

1. New vehicle sales will fall between 5-10% in 2019, forcing consolidations and some bankruptcies. In 2018, Faraday Future collapsed and Suzuki retreated from China. There are many more marsupials on the open savannah. 

2. Capacity overhang will ignite a surge in Chinese exports. Close to 2 million vehicles will be shipped to markets in Southeast Asia, South America and Africa. 

3. Demand for electric vehicles will buck the downward trend, rising to 1.5 million units, from 1.1 million in 2018. New policies take effect in 2019 that basically guarantee higher EV sales. 

4. First Auto Works, Dongfeng and Changan will merge to form China's largest automaker. Call it the China Colossal Car Company, with more than 10 million units capacity.  

5. SF Motors' all-electric SUVs will begin rolling off the assembly line at the Mishawaka, Indiana plant just down the street from Touchdown Jesus.  

(pictured above: SF Motors’ SF7 and SF5)

Off to Detroit, where we look forward to meeting you.