xi's moments

BAIC revs up tech drive

By Zhong Nan | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2018-12-11 17:08

Xu Heyi, chairman of BAIC Group (right), claps as the first South African assembled BAIC X25 rolls off the production line. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]

Beijing Automotive Industry Corp, one of China's five leading automakers by sales revenue, is adopting more digital technologies and forming partnerships with companies in other sectors to upgrade its product range, amid the wider industry shift toward developing intelligent connected vehicles.

Eager to compete with other established rivals both from the domestic and overseas markets, BAIC Group unveiled its five-year plan this year. It aims to equip all of its products with world-leading self-driving or intelligent connected technologies by 2020.

"The future development trend of the automotive industry should be the deep integration and collaborative innovation between traditional automakers and internet companies," said Xu Heyi, chairman of BAIC Group. "All the steps are digitally synchronized to ensure execution and complete alignment with customer demand."

A number of global players from Germany, France, Japan and the United States have already digitalized their entire value chain, from product design and research and development, to logistics, production and related services.

BAIC has adopted a flexible production model that combines people, machines and production processes. This allows the automaker to produce sedans and SUVs on the same production line in several of its plants, and in the future with either a pure electric or traditional combustion engine.

With the intelligent upgrade becoming an inevitable trend for the future of the automotive industry, Xu said, BAIC Group will transform and upgrade its business from a traditional manufacturing company to a manufacturing-service and innovative enterprise.

Promoting intelligent strategy will be one of the company's main tasks over the long term, he said.

The Beijing-headquartered group implemented an intelligent car development strategy called NOVA-PLS in 2017. The move came after it launched a comprehensive strategic partnership with Baidu Intelligent Vehicle Co, a subsidiary of Chinese tech giant Baidu Inc, to promote automotive intelligent upgrading in the same year.

"The government has also paid close attention to the intelligent connected vehicle development process, and has taken it as a vital way to relieve the pressures of traffic congestion, high energy consumption and environmental pollution," he added.

Xu said intelligent connected new energy vehicles are bound to be the final solution of the vehicle consumption upgrading process and future mobility.

Electrification is just the beginning of the new energy vehicle industry, he added, and the industry will be further disrupted by new visions and technologies.

To strengthen collaboration among leading automakers and improve overall technologies, BAIC took the lead by establishing the Beijing-based National New Energy Vehicle Technology Innovation Center, a national-level platform for new energy vehicles, in March this year.

In partnership with Baidu and Germany's industrial conglomerate Robert Bosch GmbH, BAIC BJEV — BAIC Group's electric vehicle manufacturer — released its Darwin tech system in Beijing last month.

The EU5, the company's first model to adopt this new system, has all-day battery technology, which enables the battery heat time to shrink from 80 minutes to six minutes at under 30 C.

The company said the large power charging system will halve the charging time of the previous system. Models with this system will be able to run for 450 kilometers after charging for 15 minutes on a 350 kilowatt pole.

BAIC BJEV has invested more than 2 billion yuan ($291 million) into research and development in the past three years, accounting for 7 percent of its operating revenue. The company's investment in product development totaled 873 million yuan in 2017, representing 7.62 percent of that year's operating revenue.

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