Technology

Battery Concerns: the Big Roadblock for China’s Electric Vehicle Industry

As the world moves towards a greener future, electric vehicles are going to become one of the biggest industries in the years to come, and many nations across the world are trying to get a leg up in their quest to produce those cars as soon as they possibly can. Needless to say, China has become one of the biggest hubs for electric vehicle manufacturing, but the country faces an uphill struggle in making batteries adequately for that purpose. In this regard, it is necessary to point out that battery is one of the most important factors that decide whether a car can be a long term alternative to a traditional vehicle and if it is not up to the mark, then it is unlikely that customers are going to shell out big money for these vehicles.

Nio is the biggest electric vehicle manufacturer in the country and can be called the Tesla of China, but in a recent report by Reuters, it has emerged that the battery in some of its models are not working well. In that report, it has emerged that a customer who bought a high-end model from Nio, had to return it since the vehicle could not meet the promise of going 335 km after a round of charging. Eventually, the customer had to sell the car that had set him back by 481,000 yuan. The car owner said, “We had to recharge the car once and drove with a high level of anxiety throughout, constantly having to keep an eye on the range meter I wouldn’t want to do that kind of trip again – ever.” It is necessary to point out that Nio is the most well known electric vehicle company in China and if it is facing difficulties with batteries, then it is almost certain that the situation is same in other companies.

 This has created a big problem for electric vehicles at large in China and although do say, that the distance travelled per charge may vary, it is important to note that no such problem exists for traditional vehicles. In addition to that, electrical vehicles are far more expensive and if the batteries start falling short of expectations, then there is every chance that customers are going to stay from these cars for the foreseeable future. Due to the sort of pollution that China suffers from, the electric vehicles industry wishes to grow the sale of such vehicles in a big way over the next decade or so. However, the whole situation is not looking great, due to the current battle with batteries.

Ralph WilliamsBattery Concerns: the Big Roadblock for China’s Electric Vehicle Industry
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Indian IT Behemoths Projects Show Strong Growth Following Quarterly Results

The Indian tech industry, usually referred to as the ‘information technology’ or ‘IT’ industry, grew at breakneck speed during the first decade of the new millennium but over the past few years, some of the biggest companies in the industry had a hard time as new technologies emerged. However, robust fourth in the fourth quarter by some of the biggest names in the industry like Tata Constancy Services (TCS) and Infosys has prompted both companies to forecast strong growth momentum in the future.

Traditionally, Indian IT companies have been dependent on outsourcing projects for their bumper revenues, but over the past half a decade or so, those projects have become increasingly tough due to shrinking margins. In order to reverse that trend, the IT majors in India have gone into artificial intelligence, digital marketing services and machine learning in a bit way. Needless to say, this pivot has helped them in staging a remarkable turnaround in their bottom line.

TCS is the big daddy of Indian IT industry, and in the past few years, it has left pioneering firm Infosys in the dust. In the fourth quarter (by Indian accounting practices), the company raked in Rs. 81.26 billion in profits. In the same quarter in 2018, TCS had recorded profits of Rs. 69.04 billion and that goes to show how they have weathered the gathering storms in the industry over the past few years. The number beat analysts’ estimates comfortably.

 The software exporter also stated that the orders are flowing in against at a healthy rate from all its key markets. Some of the most profitable markets for TCS has been the Middle-East, mainland Europe and the United Kingdom. It also has a massive presence in its domestic market. Rajesh Gopinathan, who is the Chief Executive Officer of TCS, predicted that the momentum is going to continue. He said, “That’s one of the big things that give us the confidence about the momentum we see.” 

On the other hand, Infosys, which used to be the biggest name in Indian tech, reported profits of Rs. 40.74 billion. Last year, the same figure stood at Rs. 36.9 billion. Infosys has also made a forecast that the annual revenues in the company are going to rise handsomely by up to 9.5%. CEO Salil Parekh said, “We are at a much more stable place we were 12 months ago. We had given ourselves a three-year period to become fully functioning in terms of stability, momentum and acceleration.”

Ralph WilliamsIndian IT Behemoths Projects Show Strong Growth Following Quarterly Results
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Ford Likely to Forge Deal With Mahindra, End Independent Business

Ford Motors may soon end their independent business in India and start a new joint venture with Mahindra and Mahindra according to internal sources. The terms of the new deal are still discussed, but it seems more than likely that Mahindra will have a 51% stake in the new unit and Ford will hold 49% of the stakes. Ford may also transfer the current operative business to Mahindra including the employees, assets and other related resources.

Ford had in the past two decades invested close to $2 billion in the country but has not been able to generate the kind of interest it has seen in other countries and has struggled to make a mark in India. Though India is seen as the fastest growing market for cars globally, Ford has an India market share of only 3%. Not just Ford, even General Motors is also among those that could not taste success in this country and had to downsize its operations in 2017.

India is a tough market

India is a tough market especially for foreign companies as there is local domination of companies like Maruti and Hyundai and Ford’s decision to back out of the Indian market is a reminder that it is not easy to survive in India.

Ford could sell only 93,000 automobiles in India last fiscal which is far less when compared to Maruti which sold more than 1.7 million and has a market of over 51%. The reason for global companies failing to sell cars in India is due to lack of dealership networks and local team that quickly makes changes as per the market needs.

Though India is a major market for car manufacturers, the growth has been slow with only 3.3 million units or 3% sold last year compared to 8% the year before. But the forecast for India in auto sales is a sale of 5 million cars every year making it the third largest market for cars by 2023.

Though both companies denied making any comments, Mahindra in a statement said ‘it was working together in identified areas and will announce further definitive agreements as we progress on some of the other areas.’ Both companies are in talks with each other since 2017. Ford had earlier made an alliance with Mahindra to make new cars which includes SUVs and electric cars. The funds that Ford India gets from the deal will be used to clear dues because of losses.

Paula HearnFord Likely to Forge Deal With Mahindra, End Independent Business
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Volkswagen Makes A Strategy Shift Bets Big On Electric

Volkswagen is staking its future bigtime; it is investing $91 billion or 80 billion Euros to produce electric vehicles in mass. It is seen as the most significant shift in strategy in the 80-year-old history of the company. If it can pull this off, it will be achieving what most other automakers have not been able to till date. If Volkswagen can fulfill this ambitious plan, it will become the global leader in electric cars.

Volkswagen crisis:

In September 2015, The EPA or the Environmental Protection Agency found that many of the VW cars that were sold in America had a device installed in engines that could detect the engine was being tested and change the performance parameters to provide better results. The company accepted that it was cheating and after the scandal came to light, competitors projected diesel cheating as a ‘VW Issue’ only to find out that it was widespread in the sector.

Now the company is trying to put the diesel gate behind and is making plans to become the largest manufacturer of electric cars in the world. If the demand for these cars increases then VW will be in a position to flood the market.

The decision to make this radical shift in strategy came in one of the weekend crisis meeting on October 2015 at the Rothehof Guest House as per one of the senior executives. The meeting which was headed by the then Chief Herbert Diess, top managers discussed what the future for the company is after regulators found about the emission cheating which not only bought a bad reputation to VW but also cost them 27 billion Euros in fines. It was there that the decision to build electric cars in Emden factory was taken said a senior executive of VW. Three days after the meeting at Rothehof, VW management board announced its plans to develop an electric vehicle platform which helps to mass produce affordable electric cars.

Though the market was aware that the VW would produce electric cars using the platform with codename MEB, the scale of the company’s ambition came into light only a couple of months ago when it revealed its plans of spending 80 billion Euros to make electric vehicles and batteries which beats all its rivals. Right now the company produces 40k whereas the plan is to increase production annually to 3 million by 2025. It is to be seen whether the customers who have shunned electric vehicles till now will accept it in the future.

Keith GilbertVolkswagen Makes A Strategy Shift Bets Big On Electric
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Volkswagen Has Bet It All on Electric Cars

German car manufacturing giant Volkswagen (VW) has made an enormous bet on electric cars and for all, intents and purposes, the company has staked its future on electric cars. VW wants to become the global leader in the production of electric cars and the risky, yet incredibly ambitious bet traces its origins to the company’s biggest crisis. VW has made an enormous bet, amounting to $91 billion on electric cars and in the long-term, they wish to mass produce electric cars with a profit. The reason why this radical vision is regarded as risky is that no other car maker in the world has succeeded in profitably mass producing electric cars.

However, VW’s reasons behind this strategy lie in the emission cheating scandal that not only cost the company a total of 27 billion Euros in fines but also dragged its storied name through the dirt. It was at that time in 2015 that the top executives at VW got together at a summit meeting of sorts to chart the future of the company. Speaking of that landmark meeting, VW board member Juergen Stackmann says, “It was an intense discussion, so was the realization that this could be an opportunity if we jump far enough. It was an initial planning session to do more than play with the idea of electric cars. We asked ourselves: what is our vision for the future of the brand? Everything that you see today is connected to this.” He went on to add that without that meeting that decided to build electric cars at an industrial scale would never have come to pass.

According to many analysts, however, the gigantic bet on electric cars remains a risky one. For instance, analysts at Deloitte state that the industry could produce as much as 14 million electric cars a year but what they need to take into consideration is the simple fact that there is no matching demand for those cars. However, should the demand ever come about, then VW is going to be in a position to meet the demand head on and wipe out rivals. They now possess the wherewithal to flood the market with their mass-produced electric cars if the demand rises. However, another group of analysts does believe that with the tightening of emissions laws all over the world, including in China and the European Union, the mass adoption of electric cars is only a matter of time. If and when that happens, Volkswagen could find itself as the king of that market.

Ralph WilliamsVolkswagen Has Bet It All on Electric Cars
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Quadriga Founder Dies And Millions Of Dollars Frozen

Gerold Cotten aged 30 who is the founder of a Canadian digital platform that trades cryptocurrencies died prematurely in December and about $137.21 million in digital currency is now frozen in user’s accounts as he was the only person who had the password to gain access. According to the Facebook page of the company, Quadriga CX, Cotten died due to issues which resulted from Chron’s disease. The company’s Facebook page that announced the death of its founder on Jan 14 said that he died while he was volunteering in an orphanage in India.

Quadriga which trades in Litecoin, Bitcoin, and Ethereum has about 363,000 users registered on the platform and of which 115, 000 users are affected as their accounts are frozen which is worth Canadian $250 million. An affidavit was filed for creditor protection last week in the Nova Scotia Supreme Court. In the affidavit filed on behalf of the company by Cotten’s wife Jennifer Robertson, she said that the main computer on which he worked on has a ‘cold wallet’ of cryptocurrencies and that it is only accessible physically and not online. That essentially means that after the founder’s death, more than C$180 million coins are in cold storage. She said that she is not aware of the password or the recovery key and that she had no involvement in her husband’s business. Even after searching repeatedly and thoroughly she could not find the password written down anywhere. Robertson in the same affidavit has claimed that she has contacted experts and has had ‘limited success in recovering a few coins and some information from the computer and cell phones.

The reason behind the company being in the crisis is in the light now, is because of the way the cryptocurrency funds are stored. For quicker access and for making payments or withdrawals the currency is stored in hot wallets and to protect it from hackers, and stealers funds are kept in cold wallets. Cold wallets contain more money and are used only when there is a shortage of funds in the hot wallets. In this particular case, the CEO of Quadriga has stored all the currencies in cold wallets, and he is the only person who has the password for these transactions. The laptop that was used for moving finds from hot wallet to cold wallet by Cotten is locked and encrypted, and that leaves the exchange paralyzed after his death.

Paul AlbinQuadriga Founder Dies And Millions Of Dollars Frozen
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