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Global View

1Chinese Car Industry

Lithium processors prepare to meet demand in era of electric car

  • Producers of processed lithium - an essential element for batteries used in electric cars - are agreeing long-term contracts with their customers to fund the investments needed to address a looming shortfall.

  • Demand for battery-grade lithium compounds is expected to skyrocket in the next decades in tandem with soaring demand for electric cars as governments and individual consumers try to reduce their carbon footprint.

  • Two types of lithium deposits dominate. One is hard rock as found in Australia, for which ready-to-go capacity to produce battery grade lithium can take up to three years. The other is brine, mostly found in Chile and Argentina, which can take seven years or more. China has reserves of both.

  • Price projections out to 2025 are not available, but Benchmark estimates prices of lithium carbonate will average $13,000 a ton over the 2017-2020 period from around $9,000 a ton in 2015-2016. (Reuters, Aug. 7)

2Automakers & Brands

BMW's 'future-proof' EV strategy

  • BMW is hedging its bets on the future by planning combustion, hybrid and electric versions of its core nameplates - with all three varieties capable of coming from the same assembly line.

  • The idea, BMW executives say, is to flex production among powertrain types according to the whims of the market. Today’s uncertain forecasts for electric vehicles are the motivator.

  • The approach can help the automaker avoid having to idle some factories while other plants can't keep up when demand diverges from forecasts. The strategy also calls for BMW to develop "future-proof" platforms that can handle electric powertrains as well as combustion engines. (Automotive News, Aug. 7)

SAIC, GAC boost deliveries on expanded lineups

  • Two state-owned automakers, SAIC Motor Corp. and GAC Motor Co., reported strong July sales as their proprietary brands expanded their crossover lineups.

  • Last month, combined sales of SAIC's Roewe and MG brands shot up 85% year on year to 37,068 vehicles. For the first seven months, the two brands delivered 270,690 vehicles, more than double their sales from a year earlier. 

  • GAC also has enjoyed strong sales. Last month, the company's Trumpchi brand delivered 38,965 vehicles, up 28% from a year earlier. For the first seven months, Trumpchi sales surged 52% to 289,843 vehicles. (Automotive News China, Aug. 8)

GM is selling a $5,000 electric car in China

  • General Motors will start selling a small electric car in China this week that will cost about $5,300 after national and local electric vehicle incentives, according to GM.

  • The Baojun E100 two-seat car's wheelbase is just 63 inches. That's about 10 inches shorter than Daimler's smart fortwo.

  • The E100 is powered by a single 39-horsepower electric motor and has a top speed of 62 miles an hour. The E100 can drive about 96 miles on a fully charged battery, according to GM. 

  • GM could not immediately confirm the full price of the car before incentives. (CNNMoney, Aug. 7)

Geely family to pool tech resources

  • China's Geely Holding has partnered with Swedish marque Volvo Cars to share existing and future auto technology, which is expected to enhance their competitiveness by slashing development costs.

  • According to a deal the two signed recently, the 50-50 partnership, called GV Automobile Technology, will enable Volvo Cars, Geely Auto and Lynk & Co - all of which are controlled by Geely Holding - to share technologies via license agreements.

  • The joint venture is headquartered in Ningbo, Zhejiang province, where Geely has recently built an RMB 6 billion ($893 million) research facility, and there will be a subsidiary in Gothenburg, Sweden.

  • Lynk & Co's first model, a compact SUV, will hit the market later this year. Another two models are expected to roll off the assembly line in 2018. (China Daily, Aug. 7)