China-based automaker BAIC has opened its first overseas research and development center, the BAIC EV R&D Center in Silicon Valley, California. Beijing Electric Vehicle Co., Ltd. (BAIC BJEV), a subsidiary of BAIC, is a developer of new energy vehicles in China.
This new center, established in affiliation with the Beijing New Engineering Research Institute, has more than twenty employees in its current launch phase, and will be dedicated to the research and development of four to six models per year. BAIC said that the Silicon Valley R&D center will also become an important part of BJEV’s eventual globalization plans.
At the beginning of this year, BJEV signed an agreement with US-based EV company Atieva. BJEV will become Atieva’s biggest share holder. The first vehicle to arise from this partnership is estimated to be completed in time for debut at the 2016 Beijing International Automotive Exhibition.
In the first half of 2015, China surpassed the United States to become the largest market for alternative energy vehicles. BJEV has seen sales volume climb to 6,223 units through June of 2015—representing a 23.1% market share amongst China’s pure EV players. BJEV ranks sixth globally in terms of pure EV sales.
BJEV plans to bring a complete lineup of alternative energy automobiles to market. These will be categorized according to distance per charge into three groups; 2, 3 and 4, representing 200, 300 and 400 kilometers (124, 186 and 249 miles) per charge respectively. There will also be three trim levels on offer, as well as three vehicle sizes. The goal is to provide consumers with as wide a variety of choice as possible.
BJEV’s ultimate plan is to bring yearly production numbers to over 200,000 by 2020, with a 30% target for the export market. The formal establishment of the Silicon Valley facility will help BJEV gain familiarity with the needs and requirements of overseas markets, raise its profile as well as that of China’s industry as a whole and ultimately facilitate the full integration of BJEV into the global marketplace.
BJEV is also preparing for a second R&D facility in Europe.
At present, BAIC BJEV collaborates with Atieva, Siemens, SK Group and others. BAIC said it chose Silicon Valley for this investment because it serves as a focal point for innovations on the cutting edge of science and technology. BAIC expects to realize significant improvements in both overall capability and market competitiveness, and hopes to bolster its progress with regards to vehicle technology as a whole, specifically in likely areas of future growth, such as vehicle networking and autonomous driving technologies.
In addition to the research center’s affiliation with the Beijing New Engineering Research Institute, BJEV will be partnering with Chinese firms in the fields of battery technology and telematics.
Guo-xuan High-tech will bring its advances in battery cell design, materials technology and power management while Ctec-motor will provide its expertise on in-car electronic components, telematics and autonomous driving aids. BAIC said the eventual goal of this cooperative R&D agreement will be a marked improvement in BJEV’s overall capabilities in the fields where these companies specialize, and a matching improvement in the integration of these technologies into the whole of the BJEV lineup.
Our strategy of conducting research into integrated vehicle technologies and platforms in an open manner has led to BJEV receiving resources and technical cooperation from eight universities and national institutes in research in development, as well as substantial support from partners from within the supply chain, such as Foxconn, Pangda and Tgood. The establishment of BAIC EV R&D Silicon Valley will further our integration of technology resources from our other industry partners, such as AZARI and ATIEVA from the United States, CECOMP from Italy, Siemens from Germany, SK from Korea, and several others, all in order to ensure that we are constantly innovating in the fields of technology, service and business organization.
The establishment of this center is also a chance for BJEV and China’s automobile industry to grow stronger, make active efforts to participate in the global vehicle marketplace and to blend into the global industrial structure, all of which will help BJEV achieve its globalization targets, i.e. the globalization of research and development, the globalization of high end components and business partners, and to further lay a foundation that guarantees BJEV’s successful globalization of market participation and service.—Zheng Gang, BAIC General Manager