Baidu and Xiaomi have successively announced to build cars and enter the field of smart electric vehicles——

  Why do Internet companies fall in love with making cars?

  Our reporter Xu Peiyu

  Autonomous driving, auto parking, smart cockpit... Nowadays, cars are becoming more and more intelligent.

On the smart electric car track where Baige competes, there are already running new car companies such as Weilai, Xiaopeng, and Ideal, as well as traditional car companies such as SAIC that are actively transforming.

Recently, Internet companies such as Baidu and Xiaomi have also expressed their intention to enter the field of smart electric vehicles.

  Why do Internet giants focus on making cars?

What impact will the entry of new forces have on China's auto industry?

  Are smart electric cars easy to build?

  ——The capital investment is large, the production cycle is long, and there are many technical challenges, but Internet companies have certain advantages in software and other aspects

  At this year's Xiaomi spring new product launch conference, Xiaomi Chairman Lei Jun released a special "new product"-to enter the smart electric car market, with an estimated investment of 10 billion U.S. dollars in 10 years.

On March 30, Xiaomi Group submitted a formal announcement to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, and Xiaomi’s board of directors has approved the project to invest in the smart electric vehicle industry.

  Xiaomi is not the only Internet company targeting this area.

In January of this year, Baidu announced the formal establishment of a smart car company to enter the automotive industry as a vehicle manufacturer.

At the same time, Didi also said that it will join the “army” of car-making in the future.

  Up to now, many new forces have poured into the smart electric car track.

  Why do they all come to seize this track?

Are smart electric cars easy to build?

  The capital investment is large.

The reporter learned that, in addition to high research and development costs, building a car also involves sales, administration, and purchase of plants and other assets.

Taking NIO as an example, public data shows that NIO’s 2020 R&D expenditure is 2.49 billion yuan, and sales and management expenses are 3.932.3 billion yuan.

In addition, unlike traditional cars, the construction of a swap station also requires a lot of funds.

According to the plan, by the end of 2021, the total number of power stations in NIO will expand from more than 130 at the end of 2020 to more than 500, and will be upgraded to a second-generation power station with higher efficiency and more powerful functions.

  The production cycle is long.

Weilai Automobile was established in 2014. However, the first mass production delivery of the ES8 car took place in 2018, which lasted 4 years; Xiaopeng Motors took 3 years of mass production to deliver the first car G3; the first model of the ideal car Car Li One2019 also realized mass production and delivery only 4 years after the company was founded.

The reporter learned from Baidu that it will take about three years for Baidu's first car to be mass-produced and delivered.

  More than that, smart electric vehicles are also facing challenges such as weak core technology innovation capabilities, quality assurance systems to be improved, insufficient infrastructure construction, and increasing market competition.

  It is not easy to build a car, but Internet companies believe that they have "inherent advantages" in the field of smart electric vehicles, giving them the courage to try to build cars.

Baidu said: "Baidu has a complete chain of ecological technologies in the software ecosystem, and we can better leverage technical and software advantages." Lei Jun believes that Xiaomi has the industry’s most extensive experience in software and hardware integration, a large number of key technology accumulations and the industry’s With the largest scale, the most actively connected mature intelligent ecosystem and sufficient cash reserves, Xiaomi has a very significant unique advantage for car manufacturing.

  Why do you get a piece of the pie?

  ——The development momentum is good, the market prospect is broad, and the policy support is strong. It is considered by many companies to be the biggest outlet in the next ten years

  It burns money again, and the cycle is long, why are the Internet giants rushing to enter the game?

  Good development momentum-As of 2020, China's new energy vehicle production and sales have ranked first in the world for six consecutive years, with cumulative sales exceeding 5.5 million vehicles.

From January to March this year, the production and sales of new energy vehicles were 533,000 and 515,000, respectively, an increase of 3.2 times and 2.8 times year-on-year, and sales reached a new high.

China Association of Automobile Manufacturers predicts that the production and sales volume of new energy vehicles is expected to exceed 1.8 million this year, and the good development momentum will continue.

  Broad market prospects-The "New Energy Vehicle Industry Development Plan (2021-2035)" issued by the General Office of the State Council proposes that in 2025, the sales of new energy vehicles will reach about 20% of the total sales of new vehicles.

According to data from the Travel Association, the market penetration rate of China's new energy vehicles in 2020 is only 5.8%.

From January to March this year, the penetration rate of the new energy vehicle market was 8.6%. Although there is a significant increase from 2020, there is still room for the 20% target.

  A lot of policy support-Last year, the Ministry of Finance and relevant departments clearly extended the new energy vehicle purchase subsidy policy to the end of 2022, while at the same time smoothing the subsidy decline intensity and pace; recently released the "Notice on the implementation of new energy vehicles to the countryside in 2021" 》It is clear that from March to December, new energy vehicles will be launched in the countryside in Shanxi, Jilin, Henan, Hubei, Hunan, Guangxi, Chongqing, Shandong, Jiangsu, Hainan, Sichuan and other places, and a series of activities will support the development of new energy vehicles. The policies will continue.

In addition, the construction of infrastructure such as charging piles has also received strong support.

Liu Yongdong, director of the Standardization Center of the China Electricity Council, told this reporter that a series of support policies introduced in recent years cover all aspects of financial incentives, preferential charging power prices, and supervision of the construction and operation of charging facilities. Policy support system.

As of the end of 2020, the number of public charging piles in China has reached 807,300 units.

  Complete industrial chain-Taking Lianzhuang as an example, Chen Xixi, the co-founder of Shanghai Lianzhuang New Energy Technology Co., Ltd., introduced that the household charging piles and other charging products of Lianzhuang have been matched to SAIC Volkswagen, Geely Automobile, GAC Toyota, and Dongfeng Nissan. And other auto companies, the annual shipment of household charging piles has reached 100,000; at the same time, it provides smart charging equipment and platform management systems for leasing service providers, and provides charging operators with comprehensive and customized smart charging overall solutions to meet new energy requirements. The charging and operation service needs of diversified customers in the industry chain.

  For enterprises, having high commercial value is an important reason why all kinds of enterprises are optimistic about the smart electric vehicle track.

  "Smart electric vehicles are the broadest development track in the next ten years, an indispensable key component of the smart ecology, and the only way for Xiaomi to continue to fulfill the company's mission and use technology to help people meet people's needs for a better life." Lei Jun said.

  Baidu said: "We believe that the smart car track is one of the important ways for artificial intelligence technology to land and benefit the society, and there is a broad space for commercial value."

  How will it change the industry?

  ——Market competition is more intense, the development direction is changed, and the level of automobile intelligence is higher

  With the wave of intelligence and electrification sweeping the automotive industry, how will Internet technology companies such as Baidu and Xiaomi enter the field of smart electric vehicles? What impact will it have on the entire industry?

  Market competition is more intense, and traditional enterprises are in urgent need of transformation.

"Traditional car companies are transitioning to the era of software-defined cars. This is a self-evident challenge. However, the basic skills and scale of car manufacturing are the unique advantages of traditional car companies, and paying more attention to user experience is the advantage of Internet car manufacturing. In the end, It depends on who runs fast, who has the largest scale, and whose ecology is more abundant.” said Zu Sijie, vice president and chief engineer of SAIC Motor.

  The development direction has changed, and the degree of intelligence will be higher.

“The current competition is relatively traditional. Electric vehicles are still competing for a larger market share with fuel vehicles. When the era of electric vehicles really comes, users’ concerns will gradually shift from the acceleration and battery life of electric vehicles to driverless and intelligent vehicles. When a car has sufficient digital and intelligent functions, it can actually be regarded as an intelligent robot. This is also the direction of intelligent vehicles that Baidu wants to define when building cars." The relevant person in charge of Baidu Said.

  Software-defined cars are expected to become a new direction in the field of smart electric vehicles in the future.

Chen Hong, chairman of SAIC Motor, believes that as the "next generation of cars" approach, software will inject new souls into cars.

Automobiles will be transformed from a "hardware-based" industrial product into a self-learning, self-evolving, self-growth "soft and hard" intelligent terminal, and become a walking "wisdom new species".

  Internet companies are deploying cars one after another, which will not only have a certain impact on the auto industry, but also affect the way residents travel.

"It might as well take a more positive view of Internet companies building cars. On the one hand, these companies can quickly improve the technological level of the automotive industry. On the other hand, these companies may also change the travel industry. Baidu Apollo has started trials in Changsha and Beijing. Operating self-driving taxis. In the future, as Baidu starts to build cars, there will be more and more self-driving taxis, and a new round of changes in the daily travel mode of residents is likely to follow." A person in charge of Baidu said.