Nowadays, Tesla is well known for targeting the future energy car market. As this will be a huge market in the future, also a large number of start-ups and other companies are working hard to gain some market share in this economy. Among those, I have identified a hidden pioneer – AIWAYS.
Catherine has a smile on her face when she talks about the company that she works for. Her company is well positioned to become a big player in the market of future energy vehicles in China – and the Chinese car market is already today the most important growth market in the world. AIWAYS has many things in common with Byton, which is another pioneer in the same industry, however, there are clear differences between both. While Byton focuses on the premium sector of the electric cars market and is already relatively well known and respected by experts outside China, AIWAYS is yet hardly known outside the Kingdom of the Middle, though employing about a thousand of employees around the globe.
However, there are quite some similarities between the two: Byton’s CEO, Dr. Carsten Breitfeld, came from BMW, AIWAYS chief of products, Roland Gumpert, worked more than 35 years at Audi. Both have parts of their R&D in the Silicon Valley and in China and produce in China and Germany; both have launched their first model in 2018 and have planned their next one for 2019. The fact that both companies’ strategy is to stay 100% in-house – from R&D to Production, Marketing, and Sales, undermines also that they have aimed to pioneer the future car industry.
In April 2018, AIWAYS launched its first model onto the market. The sports car “RG Natalie”, where “RG” stands for Roland Gumpert, uses hydrogen engine, has a top speed of 300 km/h, and reaches a speed of 100 km/h in as little as 2.5 seconds. However, economically driven, its range can be up to amazing 1,200 km.
2019 will be a very important year for AIWAYS. In 2019, the first fully electric car, an SUV called “U5 Ion” that was presented in April this year the first time, will be launched, priced at approximately 30,000€. The basic range will be over 400 km, but there will be an additional feature ready for use: Car owners can plug-in or use a trailer with an additional battery that enables the car to drive an additional distance of 120 km. This is quite exciting as such a feature could enable new revenue streams such as renting batteries at gas stations, which also take back the empty ones or it could make it easier to deploy more powerful batteries as soon as they are developed.
As of today, AIWAYS’s Website is only available in Chinese, with a few English buzzwords, and hard to find outside China: An open search for “AIWAYS on Baidu gives you a lot of company links and news, an open Google search provides you information about British Airways and nothing about cars… However, a future expansion into foreign markets will likely start soon: The RG Natalie can already be ordered from abroad and the company is also participating in the first foreign marketing events, such as one of the September 2018 Nuremburg Racing Events.
Targeting an annual production of more than 150,000 cars, AIWAYS will soon be an established company on the global future energy automobiles market. However, there are more companies with high ambitions, which I will talk about next time.