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Chinese EV firms resist Tesla dip with Shanghai pitches

(ATF) Chinese electric vehicle (EV) firms joined foreign competitors in pitching their growth plans at the Shanghai auto show on Monday April 19, helping US-listed shares for Nio and Xpeng to resist the downward pull of a fall in Tesla stock after a vehicle crash in Texas.

Tesla shares fell 3.4% after two US agencies said on Monday that they were investigating a crash in Texas on Saturday that left two dead and which local police said appeared to have occurred with no one in the driver’s seat of the vehicle.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which regulates vehicle safety, and the National Transportation Safety Board said they would investigate the crash.

At the Shanghai auto show which opened on Monday the CEOs of Chinese EV firms Nio and Xpeng both promoted their expectations of sharp growth in demand for electric vehicles.

Nio chief executive William Li and Xpeng head He Xiaopeng also chatted together in public, helping to create an image of optimism for their companies.

The Nasdaq-listed shares of both Nio and Xpeng rose slightly on the day, resisting the effect of the Tesla downturn that helped to pull down major US indices such as the S&P and Nasdaq Composite. 

Other Chinese firms also pitched their growth plans at the Shanghai auto show.

Baidu, GAC, BYD all there

Li Zhenyu, senior corporate vice president at technology firm Baidu, said it expects to supply its Apollo autonomous driving system to one million cars in the next three to five years.

Baidu established its autonomous driving unit Apollo in 2017. The unit mainly supplies technology powered by artificial intelligence and works with automakers such as Geely, Ford and GAC.

In January, Baidu said it would set up a company with Geely to make smart electric vehicles.

Baidu already operates autonomous taxi service Go Robotaxi in Chinese cities including Beijing, Changsha and Cangzhou.

GAC said it plans to roll out its first vehicle model with autonomous driving functions developed with Huawei Technologies after 2024. 

GAC’s general manager Feng Xingya also said that the firm aims for half of its sales to be electric in 2035, with hybrid cars accounting for the rest.

BYD, a Chinese EV firm that competes with Nio, Li Auto and Xpeng, is launching a new product platform which will be open to other automakers, its chairman Wang Chuanfu said on Monday.

BYD, which is backed by legendary US investor Warren Buffett, is developing electric models with Daimler, Toyota and Didi Chuxing.

BYD’s rival automaker Geely last year launched an open source platform for other companies.

BMW, Daimler

European firms are also promoting their plans at the Shanghai auto show, and BMW attributed a sharp rise in first quarter earnings impart to overall demand from China.

In a release made ahead of schedule, BMW said its earnings before tax rose by 370% to ?3.76 billion ($4.53 billion), according to preliminary figures, with sales growing in all major regions and across brands.

It noted particular strength in China, as well as positive price developments and high demand for used cars, and added that its earnings had exceeded market expectations.

German rival Daimler said last week that soaring Chinese demand for luxury Mercedes-Benz cars and higher prices drove a better-than-expected profit in its first quarter. 

BMW is scheduled to announce full earnings on May 7.


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Jon Macaskill

Jon Macaskill has over 25 years experience covering financial markets from New York and London. He won the State Street press award for 'Best Editorial Comment' in 2016


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