All the way to “Winter”, do “NIOs” have a future?

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This August, the media focused on Weilai and Li Bin.

In just a few days, the company’s co-founder resigned, a large number of layoffs, the closure of the Silicon Valley office (rumours have been refuted), return to the Science and Technology Innovation Board (rumors have been refuted), and the split of the autonomous driving business (rumors have been refuted). . . . . . The endless stream of unidentifiable true and false news has refreshed the headlines time and time again, and has pushed Weilai, the most representative new Chinese car-making company, to the forefront of the storm like never before.

Is Weilai really dead?

NIO “Package on Head”

In fact, at the beginning of its establishment, Weilai had already got a pair of “good cards”. Founded jointly by domestic top entrepreneurs such as Li Bin, Liu Qiangdong, Li Xiang, Tencent, Hillhouse Capital, and Shunwei Capital, and Internet giants, and invested by dozens of institutions such as Temasek and Baidu Redshirt, such a super-strong lineup “, even latecomers are hard to match.

Subsequently, participated in the FIA Formula Electric Championship, established a number of overseas companies, reached a strategic cooperation with Jianghuai, established a motor production base in Nanjing, deployed unmanned driving, released the first mass-produced car ES8, and the ES8 was officially listed on the New York Stock Exchange. Successfully listed and delivered more than 10,000 vehicles. . . . . . Before the arrival of 2019, Weilai’s development can be described as going smoothly.

Two years ago, Li Bin said in an interview with the media: “The most difficult time must have not yet come. Who knows what will happen. For example, if your car has quality problems, how do you deal with it?”

Li Bin would never have thought that these words would become a prophecy.

On April 22 this year, a Weilai ES8 that was being repaired by an authorized service center in Xi’an had a spontaneous combustion accident. In the following two months, two Weilai ES8s spontaneously ignited in Jiading, Shanghai and Wuhan. The successive spontaneous combustion incidents are obviously bad news for Weilai, which is rushing.

They quickly made countermeasures, that is, to strengthen the response mechanism. As long as the vehicle enters the factory for maintenance and maintenance, it will increase the separate work item of lifting the vehicle to check the bottom plate of the battery board with a lift, and every time the car enters the station to replace the battery Manual inspection will be carried out on the bottom plate of the vehicle battery pack, and a comprehensive inspection will be carried out on other electrical properties of the battery. If a safety hazard is found, the battery pack of the same specification will be replaced free of charge.

But this still can not eliminate the concerns of users. According to data released by the Passenger Passenger Association, the sales volume of NIO in the first half of this year ranked third among all new car manufacturers, with a total of 7,481 new cars sold. This is far lower than Weilai’s previous target of selling 40,000 to 50,000 cars in 2019, and even far less than Weilai’s sales last year.

You know, in the second half of last year alone, the sales volume of Weilai’s ES8 models exceeded 10,000 units to 11,332 units, and the sales volume in a single month (December) reached 3,318 units. The gap is huge, which can be seen.

After frequent spontaneous combustion incidents, Weilai finally announced the recall of 4,803 cars equipped with NEV-P50 module battery packs produced between April 2, 2018 and October 19, 2018. After these cars were recalled, NIO replaced the battery packs with NEV-P102 modules for free, so as to eliminate the risk. But after this encounter, the trust that was hard to build with users has already disintegrated. While the car quality problem made Weilai miserable, the departure of the company’s top management also made Weilai’s situation even more difficult.

Winter is coming?

In July 2019, Weilai confirmed the news that Zhuang Li, the company’s vice president of software development, had resigned. Although Weilai said that this was just a normal flow of personnel, there were different opinions.

Zhuang Li joined NIO in 2016 as the vice president of NIO Software Development (China), responsible for vehicle software development, including Internet of Vehicles, TSP, Shanghai-related software development, and even smart cockpit business. A former NIO employee revealed: After Zhuang Li left, NIO’s R&D department fell into a leaderless situation, and the technical backbone was gone. Although the leader who took over later had done technology, the main focus was on product thinking. He even pointed out that Weilai’s system has not been doing well, and Zhuang Li’s departure means that the future will not get better, because no one really understands this business anymore.

Picture | Zheng Xiancong (left), Zhuang Li (right)

Two months after Zhuang Li’s departure, Li Bin issued an internal letter announcing the retirement of the company’s co-founder Zheng Xiancong. Zheng Xiancong is the person in charge of NIO’s supply chain and core technology (NIO Drive Technology). Only Weilai knows what the departure of the person in charge of software development and the person in charge of core technology means, but at such an important moment, the departure of executives has obviously become another basis for doubts from the outside world.

Apart from the resignation of executives, there is another bigger problem for Weilai, which is the lack of money. Li Bin replied to the topic of layoffs at a recent event. He said: “The layoffs are to optimize and improve operating results, and to save capital for the winter of capital in the auto market.” In short, financing for car manufacturers is becoming more and more difficult, and companies must Reduce operating costs to survive this winter.

Indeed, car manufacturing is a “money-burning” business, and losses are the norm for newly established car manufacturers. Weilai’s loss from 2016 to 2018 was as high as 17.2 billion yuan. Weilai’s financial report for the first quarter of 2019 showed that the quarter’s loss was 2.624 billion yuan, which means that Weilai has lost money since 2016. 20 billion yuan.

Is it feasible to rely on the stock market to raise funds like Tesla?

the answer is negative. In September last year, after NIO was listed on the New York Stock Exchange, it priced at US$6.26 per share, issued 160 million shares, and raised US$1 billion. At that time, NIO’s market value was US$6.4 billion. In June of this year, Weilai’s stock price fell to $2.5 per share, making it difficult to raise funds through stocks.

“Frugal food and clothing” has become Weilai’s coping strategy. In April of this year, Weilai moved its Beijing business back to its Shanghai headquarters and announced layoffs in China and the United States. According to an internal letter released by Li Bin recently, Weilai plans to lay off 1,200 employees by the end of September this year. In addition, there was news this month that Nio had sold its stake in the Formula E racing team. So far, Weilai is no longer the Weilai who spent 80 million yuan on a press conference and made a big news in Beijing Wukesong Sports Center.

However, Weilai did not fail to raise a penny. In May of this year, it signed an agreement with Beijing Yizhuang State Investment, and Yizhuang State Investment will invest 10 billion yuan in it, which has continued a lot of “blood” for Weilai. However, in the case of poor sales and continuous losses, it is still unknown whether it will last until the crisis is over, even if it is austere to save money.

No matter how the outside world doubts it, it is undeniable that Weilai is indeed the car brand that has been seen the most offline among the new car-making forces. If even it has to prepare for the winter, what kind of test will other new car-making forces face?

The first big test of “new car-making forces”

From the perspective of companies and individuals involved in car manufacturing, policies, markets and other aspects, new energy vehicles are developing in an ideal direction. As Weilai, Xiaopeng, Weimar, Hezhong, etc. have all entered the stage of mass production, this should have been the stage when these car manufacturers took off, but this is not the case in reality.

According to the statistical data of the Passenger Federation, the production and sales of automobiles in my country in 2018 were 27.809 million and 28.081 million, of which the annual production and sales of new energy vehicles were 1.27 million and 1.256 million respectively. According to statistics, the cumulative sales volume of new energy vehicles from January to June this year was 570,000, of which the sales of new car manufacturers were very dismal, accounting for only 9% of the sales volume of the entire new energy pure electric vehicles. , Hezhong, etc. have not delivered more than 10,000. It can be said that new car manufacturers will find it difficult to complete this year’s sales target.

The reason is that as more and more new energy vehicles are put on the road, vehicle quality problems have gradually become prominent. Frequent fires and spontaneous combustion incidents of electric vehicles, shrinking mileage, water leakage, squatting, and too fast replacement have all aroused public concerns about the quality and safety of electric vehicles. Faced with electric vehicles that may spontaneously ignite, have reduced mileage, and unstable systems, users will obviously trust the former more when choosing between a very mature traditional fuel vehicle and an electric vehicle.

The retreat of the new energy vehicle subsidy policy has also poured cold water on the entire market. On March 26, 2019, the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, the Ministry of Science and Technology, and the National Development and Reform Commission jointly announced a new round of subsidies for new energy vehicles. The policy clearly stipulates that this year’s new energy vehicle subsidy standard will be reduced by an average of 50% on the basis of last year. The policy was officially implemented on March 26 this year, with a transition period from March 26 to June 25. After the transition period ends, new energy vehicles will no longer enjoy purchase subsidies.

This has a direct impact on the new energy vehicle market. Many offline stores of new energy vehicles have become empty overnight from the crowded stores in the past. The data also proves this point. According to the automobile production and sales situation announced by the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers, the production and sales of new energy vehicles in July this year were 84,000 and 80,000, respectively, a decrease of 6.9% and 4% compared with the same period last year. .7%, compared with June, decreased by 37.2% and 47.5% respectively.

In addition, after Tesla has achieved mass production, its delivery speed has become faster and faster, which has also affected the new car-making brands positioned as high-end new energy vehicles.

All in all, under the influence of various factors such as frequent car quality problems, declining subsidy policies, increasingly difficult financing, and increasingly fierce competition, the new car-making forces have ushered in the winter, and they are also working hard to solve these problems .

In terms of car quality, Weimar released a new life-long free warranty policy for power batteries not long ago, hoping to relieve car owners’ battery anxiety. Weilai also recently launched a lifetime free battery replacement + lifetime warranty service, that is, users can enjoy a lifetime free nationwide battery replacement service on the basis of enjoying a lifetime free warranty, and there is no limit to the distance, unlimited times, and unlimited power stations. , In the future, there may be more and more new car-making forces providing the same service. Moreover, since the beginning of this year, the battery life of many new electric vehicles released by new car manufacturers has reached more than 500Km.

In terms of policy, although the new energy vehicle subsidy policy is being implemented, the country is still vigorously promoting the development of new energy vehicles. A few days ago, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology pointed out in a document in response to the proposal of the National People’s Congress that the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology is working with the National Development and Reform Commission and other relevant departments to conduct research on issues related to the ban on the sale of traditional fuel vehicles in combination with the technological development process and the actual industrial development. The potential and role of automobiles and new energy vehicles in terms of technology cost, energy saving and emission reduction, market demand, etc., which means that the time for banning the sale of fuel vehicles is on the agenda.

In the long run, the future ultimately belongs to new energy vehicles. For the new car-making forces, only by constantly polishing products, solving car quality problems, comprehensive checks in R&D, design, and manufacturing links, and attracting more professionals to participate in the car-making business, can they survive winter. At that time, they will also usher in their own spring.

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