Chinese rescue another electric laggard: Fiat Chrysler?
Sept 14, 2017 Dr Peter Harrop
Analyst IDTechEx has long appraised the auto industry as consisting of those leading the move to pure electric powertrains such as Tesla, Renault + Nissan, Yutong and BYD of China, those only recently giving it major emphasis such as Toyota, Jaguar Land Rover, Volkswagen (under duress) and Daimler and those almost in denial such as Fiat Chrysler, Mazda and Suzuki, their pure electric activity being more of a gesture than a serious activity.
The Chinese are mainly bottom fishing to gain routes to market for their energetically developed electric vehicles: they buy famous brands such as the manufacturer of London black cabs and other companies with their glory days behind them. That has included Geely buying Volvo Motors and SAIC buying the MG brand. Now Chinese SUV expert Great Wall wants to buy Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA), the world's seventh-largest car manufacturer. Great Wall's first interest was in FCA subsidiary Jeep, in order to become the largest SUV manufacturer in the world. However, "With respect to this case, we currently have an intention to acquire. We are interested in (FCA)," an unnamed official told Reuters via telephone citing it as a David and Goliath takeover. Great Wall sold just over one million cars in 2016 - whereas Fiat Chrysler sold over 4.7 million.
Great Wall is growing fast: 2016 sales leapt 26%. Experts list Jeep as one of the strongest automotive brands in the world. Great Wall is already China's largest manufacturer of SUVs and pick-ups, so there is a natural fit. Meanwhile, FCA's extensive passenger car portfolio would help accelerate Great Wall's development there: as well as Fiat and Chrysler, FCA also controls Alfa Romeo, Maserati, Lancia and the RAM commercial vehicle brands all in serious need of electrification but possessing excellent brand awareness. The largest car manufacturers by number are Toyota of Japan , Renault + Nissan and Volkswagen. The Chinese will soon burst into that triumvirate.
Toyota and Tesla are even looking beyond traditional plug-in pure electric vehicles to those with much longer range than internal combustion vehicles and even Energy Independent Electric Vehicles EIV.
For example, both are heading solar bodywork. Indeed, Toyota has a large solar roof in its latest car. BYD has solar assisted buses, Toyota and IFEVS have separately patented unusually efficient wind turbines for use on parked cars. A wind turbine driven pure electric boat is being designed. GaAs photovoltaics has come from aerospace to being used in expanding form on cars to garner up to eight times the amount of electricity thanks to Hanergy of China and its US subsidiary Alta Devices. Boats and ships already achieve some lower costs from energy independence. Sometimes boats enjoy total energy independence by turning wave, tidal, daylight and wind energy into traction electricity or just one of these, even where 20 or more passengers are carried.
The world's first conference on Energy Independent Electric Vehicles takes place at the Technical University of Delft in the Netherlands 27-28 September with Toyota as one of the keynote speakers. That includes the new enabling technologies. November 15-16 sees IDTechEx staging the "IDTechEx Show!" with 3500 paying delegates and over 200 exhibitors. One of its conferences is again, "Electric Vehicles: Everything is Changing" this time with BYD, Porsche and Zero Motorcycles (exclusively pure electric) as keynotes. Others cover the necessary energy harvesting, sensing, IOT, energy storage and so on. Uniquely, IDTechEx also has reports and consulting services on all the technologies mentioned.
Top image: Toyota