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China Airline Group Seen Starting Electric Car Venture

Juneyao Group is exploring a move into the EV market, where sales are booming because of generous government subsidies and tax incentives.


Juneyao Group is considering a move into China's booming EV sector.
Billionaire Wang Junjin, chairman of Juneyao, attends a meeting of business leaders with former US president Donald Trump and China's Xi Jinping in Beijing, in November 2017. His group is reportedly keen to diversify into sectors less troubled by Covid restrictions. Photo: Damir Sagolj, Reuters.

 

Juneyao Group, owner of Chinese carrier Juneyao Airlines, plans to diversify away from the Covid-troubled aviation sector into the booming electric vehicles (EV) market, two sources said.

Juneyao, owned by Chinese billionaire Wang Junjin and family members, has set up a team to explore EV making plans, according to sources who declined to be named.

The plans are still at a preliminary stage, they added, but it would allow the Shanghai-based Juneyao to tap into a booming market that has been aided by generous government subsidies and tax exemptions.

Juneyao did not reply to a request for comment.

Sales of EVs, including pure-electric and plug-in hybrids, accounted for 22% of total auto sales in the first seven months of the year, according to Chinese industry data, the highest proportion among major global markets.

 

ALSO SEE:  China Looking to Extend EV and Car Tax Exemptions

 

 

No Auto Experience

Established local brands Nio, Xpeng and Li Auto compete fiercely against foreign players such as Tesla in the world’s largest EV market, but Juneyao would join a growing list of high-profile Chinese companies with little or no automotive experience that are rushing into the sector.

Property group Evergrande, smartphone maker Xiaomi and search engine giant Baidu have started making EVs in line with a government plan to lead the world’s auto industry in electrification and automation.

Juneyao on July 20 registered a company with 1 billion yuan ($146.2 million) of capital for businesses including EV sales, auto parts research and development and EV charging infrastructure operations, according to Qichacha, an information provider that uses official company registration sources.

An investment firm controlled by Wang Han, son of the late Juneyao co-founder Wang Junyao, is also a majority shareholder of Yudo Auto, a Fujian-based EV maker, according to Qichacha. Chinese media reported that Yudo Auto’s shareholding change showed up in official records on June 24.

Yudo Auto, founded in 2015 with the support of the southern province of Fujian, is one of the few EV startups licensed by Chinese regulators, but it has been struggling to sell its cars and suffering losses.

Juneyao and Yudo Auto did not respond to a request for comment on the shareholding change.

 

Airline Business Under Pressure

The move into EVs is a fresh undertaking for Juneyao, the Chinese conglomerate that began selling flavoured milk and yoghurt to children in the early 1990s and later broadened to operate one of the country’s largest private airlines flying domestic and international routes.

China’s domestic travel market, which had rebounded quickly due to its successful containment of the Covid-19 virus in the early days of the pandemic, is nursing heavy losses this year as authorities struggle to stop the spread of the highly transmissible Omicron variant under a strategy of eliminating cases.

Nearly half of planned flights are being cancelled every day across China, according to third-party aviation data providers. Lockdowns continue to be abruptly implemented across different parts of China over Covid case numbers that are small by global standards.

Juneyao Air warned last month of a net loss of 1.6 to 1.9 billion yuan for the first half, when its main hub Shanghai suffered from a stringent citywide Covid lockdown for two months and the number of flights fell to the lowest in the company’s history, according to a regulatory filing.

 

  • Reuters with additional editing by Jim Pollard

 

 

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Jim Pollard

Jim Pollard is an Australian journalist based in Thailand since 1999. He worked for News Ltd papers in Sydney, Perth, London and Melbourne before travelling through SE Asia in the late 90s. He was a senior editor at The Nation for 17+ years and has a family in Bangkok.

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