2022 Year-in-Review | Automotive

Automotive Author: Mu Li Editor: Ziying Wu Dec 20, 2022 03:32 PM (GMT+8)

2022 has been a magical year which witnessed drastic changes that have taken place in the automobile industry. We at EqualOcean presented the 2022 year-in-review. It is by no means exhaustive, but it may shed some light on what is to come in the future.


2022 is a year of innovation, perseverance, and automotive technological breakthroughs under the COVID pandemic outbreak in China. As the year ends, EqualOcean is delighted to reflect on the stories you enjoyed the most. Here's the roundup of this year's most popular headlines, including several key players' important financing events, as well as industrial and policy reformation.

1. Black Sesame Received Strategic Investment from Boyuan Capital 

On January 12, Black Sesame, an autonomous driving computing chip manufacturer, received strategic investment from Boyuan Capital, a subsidiary of the global automotive technology provider Robert Bosch Group. The two parties will deepen their comprehensive cooperation in autonomous driving, jointly create intelligent driving solutions and further promote the commercialization of autonomous driving.

Back in 2018, Black Sesame, which had been established only two years ago, signed a comprehensive strategic cooperation framework agreement with Bosch, agreeing to cooperate in various fields such as smart city, smart home, internet connected vehicles and autonomous driving via leveraging their respective advantages.

Previously, Bosch has invested in key companies along the value chain of China's autonomous driving industry, including software platform provider Momenta, LIDAR manufacturer Hesai Technology, autonomous driving solution provider Harness Technology, Mainline Technology, etc., yet with no prior investment in the automotive-grade chip industry. Black Sesame has thus become the first autonomous driving chip manufacturer it invested in China, and this investment completes Bosch's layout in the autonomous driving industry chain. For Black Sesame, it also shows recognition from multiple parties, including the market, the industry and institutional investors.

2. Rising Prices of Numerous New Energy Vehicles

In early 2022, the price of Lithium, Nickel, Cobalt and other key raw materials related to power batteries rose sharply. Along with expected NEV subsidy policies' cancellation in the Chinese market, multiple factors have led to a price surge across many NEV brands.

In March 2022, car companies ushered in an intensive price increase period. For instance, Tesla raised the price of its product Model Y three times a week, respectively, on March 10th, 15th and 17th. Apart from Tesla, GAC Aion, Xpeng, BYD, Chery and many other NEV brands' official prices increased. According to statistics, over 40 vehicles from more than 20 NEV brands announced an increase in respective prices.

In April 2022, NEVs, including electric vehicles and hybrid vehicles, ushered in a second round of price increase. On April 1, Li Auto One, a luxury SUV from Li Auto, officially took effect. Its retail price increased from CNY 338,000 to CNY 349,800, an increase of CNY 11,800. On April 10, Nio issued a price increase announcement for ES8, ES6 and EC6 models.

3. BYD Stopped Producing Fossil-Fueled Vehicles

On April 2, the Chinese automaker BYD announced that it will stop producing fossil-fueled vehicles. “To align with the requirements of the Company’s strategic development, the Company has stopped the production of Oil-fueled vehicles since March 2022,” the company said in a statement to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. “In the future, in terms of automobile business segment, the Company will focus on the businesses of Battery Electric vehicles and Plug-in Hybrid Electric vehicles.”

Meanwhile, BYD stated that it will continue to produce and supply the components of fossil-fueled vehicles, so as to continuously provide comprehensive service and aftersale guarantees to the existing customers of fossil-fueled vehicles. With a supply of components for the full life cycle of fossil-fueled vehicles, the company can ensure a carefree experience and smooth travel for customers. BYD became the first automaker to make an announcement that it will stop producing fossil-fueled vehicles.

4. Covid Outbreak in Shanghai and Jilin Posed Severe Challenges for Automotive Supply Chain

In April, due to the epidemic outbreak in Shanghai and Jilin, the domestic auto supply chain experienced an unprecedented test. On the one hand, Jilin Province and Shanghai City are the major auto production areas in China, accounting for more than 20% of the total auto production in the country. To align with the regional epidemic control policies, local auto and parts manufacturers in Jilin and Shanghai have implemented closed production or chosen to stop production, resulting in a huge impact towards auto production.

On the other hand, the automotive supply chain is a complicated process in which a strict product certification system is in place, making it difficult for donwstream manufactures to switch suppliers in the short term. Local auto parts manufacturers in Jilin and Shanghai are restricted in production, which in turn affects the production of downstream manufacturers in other provinces and cities. On April 9th, Nio announced that since March, the company's supply chain partners in Jilin, Shanghai and Jiangsu have been shutting down production due to the epidemic and have not yet resumed production. As a result, the production of Nio's entire vehicle has been suspended.

On April 16th, Shanghai Municipal Commission of Economy and Information Technology released "Shanghai Industrial Enterprises Resumption of Work and Production Epidemic Prevention and Control Guidelines (First Edition)", which requires promoting the resumption of work and production in a strong, orderly and effective manner to ensure the safety and stability of the industry chain supply chain under the premise of ensuring controllable risks. On April 19, production resumed at Tesla's Shanghai mega-factory, which had been shut down for 23 days.

5. China Halved the Purchase Tax for Small-Engine Cars

On May 24th, The State Council, China's Cabinet, announced to relieve car buyers of vehicle purchase taxes to the tune of CNY 60 billion (USD 9 billion) as part of a package of measures to stabilize economic performance. The relief package would account for roughly 17 percent of vehicle purchase taxes levied in 2021, according to Ping An Securities.

On May 31st, the Ministry of Finance stated that China's purchase tax for small-engine cars will be halved, in a move to boost auto sales and support an economy damaged by locked downs imposed in major cities to stamp out outbreaks of COVID-19. The government would cut the tax for cars priced at no more than CNY 300,000 (USD 45,000) and with 2.0-liter or smaller engines to 5% of the sticker price, down from 10% earlier, it said in a statement.

6. Leapmotor Raised USD 800 Mn in Hong Kong IPO

On September 25th, Chinese electric vehicle (EV) maker Zhejiang Leapmotor Technology announced that it would be set to raise $800 million by pricing its shares at HKD 48 (USD 6) each in its Hong Kong IPO. Leapmotor, founded in 2015, is a Hangzhou-based smart car manufacturer. Up to now, Leapmotor has completed six rounds of financing, cumulating at least 12 billion CNY. Its institutional investors include Sequoia China, China Capital; Investment Group, Hangzhou Municipal Government Venture Capital Fund, CTIC Capital and SDIC Chuangyi.

In 2021, Leapmotor delivered more than 40 thousand vehicles, representing a growth up to 444% year on year. As one of the fastest-growing companies among the leading EV makers in China, Leapmotor is to become the fourth Chinese NEV maker, following NIO, Li Auto, and Xpeng, to go public in Hong Kong.

7. GAC Aion Raised CNY 18 Bn from its A-Round Financing

On November 17th, Aion, an electric vehicle marque of Guangzhou Automobile Corporation group, raised CNY 18.29 billion from its A-round financing. The company stated that this investment provides Aion with the advantage of possessing key strategical upstream and downstream industrial resources, helps stabilize supply side capabilities and supports Aion's new product development as well as core technology R&D including smart drive and smart cockpit development, which will ultimately significantly strengthen Aion's future competitive advantage.

Established in 2018, GAC Aion is an NEV brand incubated by GAC group. With an aim to step into the private car market, Aion has already launched numerous products, such as Aion S, Aion LX and Aion V. The company's sales have been increasing with 182,300 cars sold in the first three quarters of 2022, compared to 60,000 cars sold in 2020 and 120,200 cars sold in 2021.

This financing was the largest single private financing round available in the domestic new energy vehicle industry in recent years. Valued at CNY 103 billion, the post-investment valuation was the highest valuation of unlisted domestic NEV enterprises.

8. VOYAH Completed Series A Financing of CNY 5 Bn

On November 18th, VOYAH announced it has completed its series A financing of around CNY 5 billion (USD 700 million) with a post-investment market valuation of almost CNY 30 billion (USD 4 billion). This transaction marks the largest series A financing in China's new energy vehicle industry.

Founded in 2020, VOYAH is a high-end NEV brand launched by Dongfeng Motor Corporation. VOYAH has been emphasizing the importance of R&D and talent acquisition, and has thus reached industry-leading level in OEM platform construction, automotive intelligence, and car body technology. With VOYAH's strong technological and innovative abilities, the market has witnessed VOYAH's continuous sales growth for five consecutive months since June 2022. Relying on Dongfeng Motor Corporation's worldwide resources, VOYAH has become a pioneer domestic premium NEV brand to expand the overseas market. Orders for VOYAH FREE, the company's first model, were delivered to Norwegian consumers by the end of November.

9. Sunwoda Electronic Debuted on the Swiss Exchange

On November 14th,  Sunwoda Electronic was officially listed on SIX Swiss Exchange. The company placed 28,759,000 GDRs at an offer price of USD 15.30 per GDR, raising approximately USD 440 million from the GDRs offering. The proceeds would primarily be used for supporting the company's globalization strategy, increasing R&D investments and replenishing working capital, eventually enhancing the company's brand presence and core competitiveness.

Founded in 1997 and headquartered in Shenzhen, Sunwoda is a high-tech enterprise with its main business focusing on the R&D, design, production and sales of lithium-ion battery cells and modules. After more than 20 years of development, the company has formed six major industrial clusters including 3C battery, smart hardware, EV battery, energy service, intelligent manufacturing and industrial Internet, and testing service.

Sunwoda has experienced surging income over the years, and the company attributed its increasing revenues to its continuous production capacity expansion and growing market share. The company has established strategic cooperation with multiple automakers including Geely, Dongfeng Motor Corporation, Dongfeng Liuzhou Motor, Nissan, Groupe Renault, and was regarded as a tier 1 supplier of power batteries by the well-known consulting group Benchmark Mineral Intelligence.

10. Automakers Set Foot in Power Battery Business

As the most expensive component of electric vehicles, power batteries play a significant role in reducing costs for car companies to improve competitiveness.

On October 27, GAC AION announced the registration and establishment of Yinpai Battery Technology Co., Ltd., officially entering the power battery market. According to the plan, the total investment will reach CNY 10.9 billion. The battery factory will start construction at the end of this year, and a 26.8GWh mass production line will be built in 2025. Previously, BYD‘s FinDreams Battery, Great Wall Motors’ SVOLT, and NIO Automobile, which is developing its own “lithium manganese phosphate battery” and 4680 batteries, have all begun to develop their own power batteries. More and more car companies have begun to lay out in the power battery industry chain.