Chinese carmaker Changan has unveiled a new electric car brand – Avatr – in collaboration with Huawei and CATL, a battery maker. Avatr said it is integrating the strengths of the three companies, which specialize in vehicle manufacturing, smart solutions and battery making, respectively. Changan holds roughly 39% of the new brand, while CATL, China’s largest battery maker, owns about 24% as the second largest stakeholder. Huawei does not hold stakes in the joint venture but it is involved in the development of the brand’s vehicle architecture. This has made Avatr the third brand to feature Huawei’s operating system and autonomous driving solutions after Arcfox and Seres. Avatr said its first model, which will hit the market in 2022, will be a crossover. It will have a driving range of at least 700 kilometers on a single charge and be capable of accelerating from zero to 100 km/h in less than four seconds.
“Average electric vehicles won’t sell now, and carmakers need to highlight eye-catching and cutting-edge features,” said Yale Zhang, Managing Director of Shanghai-based consulting firm Automotive Foresight. Changan is not the first carmaker to partner with technology companies. Late last year, China’s largest carmaker SAIC established electric car brand IM with Alibaba. The IM JV with an investment of CNY10 billion said staff engaged in smart driving and big data account for 75% of its research and development (R&D) team. IM’s first production model, featuring autonomous parking and wireless charging, was shown at the Guangzhou International Auto Show which opened on November 19. “Electric car buyers are losing interest in conventional carmakers, but association with such big names as Huawei and Alibaba will help carmakers attract attention,” said Roy Lu, an independent auto analyst. Lu said independent brands of traditional carmakers will find that partnerships with companies such as CATL will facilitate their financing in the future, as vehicle R&D as well as production is expensive.
China is the world’s largest market for electric cars and plugin hybrids. Their sales rocketed 134.9% year-on-year in October to about 383,000 units, accounting for 16.4% of total vehicle deliveries that month. Deliveries in the first 10 months totaled 2.54 million, 12% of total vehicle sales. The figure was 5.8% in 2020. Zhang Yongwei, Chief Expert at Chinese auto think tank EV 100, said electric cars and plugin hybrids will account for 30% of new vehicle sales in the country in 2025. Smart vehicles with connectivity functions will make up at least half of total deliveries in the same year, he said, as reported by the China Daily.