As the infrastructure of the new energy automobile industry, charging piles have attracted the national team, third-party platforms, and car companies. However, after five or six years of advancement, they still have not found a suitable way out and have not yet solved the user’s demand for charging like gas.On the one hand, more and more new energy vehicles appear on the streets, but the anxiety of charging seems to have spread from mobile phones to the field of new energy vehicles. On the other hand, for most car owners, useful charging piles are becoming more and more difficult to find. , Even if you find it, you have to wait in line.
The money saved is only replaced by the additional time cost.
As the infrastructure of the new energy automobile industry, charging piles have attracted the national team, third-party platforms, and car companies. However, after five or six years of advancement, they still have not found a suitable way out and have not yet solved the user’s demand for charging like gas. The automobile market as a whole declined, and new energy vehicles led the decline.
Charging piles, it is no exaggeration to say, have become one of the ways for new energy car companies to save themselves.
User needs are difficult to meet
In the winter of 2019, Chang Lei, who works in Beijing, managed to get a new energy license plate index. But before buying a car, he borrowed a friend’s Xiaopeng G3 to get along with new energy vehicles in advance.
His father couldn’t believe in new energy vehicles, thinking that it would have no electricity at any time, and there were few charging facilities, unlike gas stations everywhere, and refueling did not take that long to charge.
In a week, Chang Lei didn’t get along well with the new energy vehicle. He often felt very anxious. For example, when he drove the heating for 10 kilometers, the battery life dropped by nearly 60 kilometers.
For another example, he was looking for a place to charge the car, and he was told that the equipment was unavailable in an office building. The second location was an industrial and commercial office in Chaoyang District. When he arrived, the office was off work, so he couldn’t get in; the third The location was in the parking lot by the Fifth Ring Road, but the eight charging piles were broken and there was no maintenance. Finally, I came to another office building and walked around almost half of the parking lot, and finally found a working charging pile. When he got out of the underground parking lot of the office building, it was dark and he was finally able to eat dinner.
Many people have experiences similar to Chang Lei. But for new energy car companies, charging has become a part of determining service and even sales. Charging services have even become one of the driving forces for potential users to make purchasing decisions. At this point, Li Xiang, founder and CEO of Ideal Auto, is not exaggerating.
In August 2020, in a group chat conversation, Li Xiang talked about this topic. He had a conclusion that both Tesla and Weilai are continuing to build their own charging stations and charging piles to improve user experience. One of the reasons why their vehicles do not have an advantage in battery life, but are sold in market segments.
The three data charts he posted in the group chat showed that Tesla’s Model 3 sales ranked first among auto companies in Beijing, Shanghai, and Shenzhen in June. The Weilai Automobile es 6, which sells for nearly 400,000 yuan, has not been affected by its 420-kilometer battery life, and ranks first in sales in the pure electric SUV segment.
“Before I made up my mind to buy Weilai, I found a power station and talked with several car owners for a long time.” Li Jia told Sina Technology that Xiaopeng provided home chargers for free but he could not install them at home because he gave up Tesi because of his size. Pull Model 3, other brands can only choose to go to the State Grid or a third-party charging platform. “I don’t want to install a few apps just because I bought a car. I might even be unable to find a useful charging station.” Li Jia worried that the third-party charging station was too far away from home.
In comparison, where he lives, there is one Weilai swap station within 3 minutes of driving, and there are two Weilai swap stations within 5 minutes of driving to work. Although Li Jia rarely goes to change power stations because he installed charging piles in the parking spaces of the community. “But I always feel more at ease and have a bottom line.”
However, Wei Lai’s service is also unsatisfactory, especially when he is driving far away. Before buying the es 6, he used to rent an es 6 to Zhangjiakou, but then he found that the entire Zhangjiakou only has one charging station on the national grid that can charge, and many devices are not available. And Weilai’s one-key power-up is more like a gimmick. He called the one-key power-up in Zhangjiakou, but was told, “I can charge you a little in 3 days.”
As a car owner who has installed the Weilai 84-degree battery pack, the reason why he rarely goes to switch stations is that Beijing’s Weilai swaps stations, and there are only three 84-degree batteries in total. Before NIO’s 100-degree battery pack arrives, he can only accept this embarrassing situation and wait. The 84-degree battery pack is NIO’s transition product from 70 degrees to 100 degrees, and it is also an economic solution for NIO owners to upgrade from 70 to 100 degrees.
According to the National Energy Administration, as of the end of June this year, the number of various charging piles in the country reached 1.322 million, of which 558,000 were public charging piles, ranking first in the world. As charging piles are listed as one of the seven new infrastructure areas (5G infrastructure, UHV, intercity high-speed railways and intercity rail transit, new energy vehicle charging piles, big data centers, artificial intelligence and industrial Internet), charging piles The accelerated investment will drive a significant increase in the demand for charging equipment.
But this does not mean that the needs of users can be met. The experience of Li Jia and Chang Lei is not an isolated case, and this situation will exist for a long time in the future.
According to the “New Energy Vehicle Industry Development Plan (2021-2035)” (draft for comments), the sales of new energy vehicles will account for about 25% of vehicle sales by 2025, and the sales of new energy vehicles are conservatively estimated to be about 7 million. Based on the estimation of the number of new energy vehicles in possession of 20 million and the ratio of vehicles to piles of 1:1, the number of charging piles required is about 18.8 million.
However, the early layout of charging piles (stations) lacked accurate user data and seemed unreasonable, and the update speed of charging equipment was not as fast as that of batteries.
Kuaidi co-founder Yu Xiang shared his own personal experience twice with Sina Technology. He once drove to Fangshan in Beijing. Before leaving, he opened the charging app and saw a charging station near the destination, and the charging pile was in good condition. But when he went to recharge, he looked back and forth at the navigation destination, but did not find the charging pile. After going around a few times, he found 8 charging posts in a pile of grass, but only two were usable.
He needs to charge his car, so he pulled out the weeds by himself, and it took quite a while to complete the charging. Then a car owner who came to the location did not find a charging pile. In the end, Yu Xiang helped him pull out other weeds so that he could charge smoothly.
Obviously, this is a waste of resources caused by inaccurate collection of user data. Another time when Yu Xiang visited the market, he heard a car owner complain in the underground garage of a shopping mall because the charging speed of the charging pile was too slow. He had to wait a long time, which brought additional costs. Pay more for parking.
“The charging piles installed after the second half of 2018 basically do not need to be upgraded, which can meet the needs of car owners for fast charging and battery capacity increase; but the charging piles that need to be upgraded will take 3-5 years to complete the upgrade.” Co-founder Yu Xiang told Sina Technology that if the number of charging piles needs to keep up with the increase in the number of cars, it will take almost 15 years.
When two barrels of oil (PetroChina and Sinopec) spent 70 years building a nationwide oil and gas energy supplement network, the charging network has a long way to go, whether it is at the infrastructure level or on the ground. In this regard, whether it is a central enterprise such as State Grid, China Southern Power Grid, or a third-party service provider such as Special Call, Star Charging, or OEMs such as BAIC, BYD, Tesla, Weilai, and Xiaopeng Motors, there are opportunities The market takes a share.
Sales also depend on charging services
Li Xiang concluded that there is no problem from the point of view of common sense. Indeed, only when the charging network becomes more and more convenient can more and more potential car owners be willing to buy new energy vehicles or even switch from fuel vehicles to new energy vehicles. Among the current owners of new energy vehicles, most of them are still “forced” to buy, which has not been significantly improved in the past five years.
“In 2015, 80,000 of the 330,000 new energy sales were private cars, while six cities like Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Tianjin and Hangzhou accounted for 70% of 80,000. These consumptions were mainly due to policy pressure and there was no alternative. , No license, not out of consideration for use.” On January 15, 2017, at the Forum of the Hundreds of Electric Vehicles, Xu Changming, deputy director of the State Information Center, announced the specific structure of domestic new energy sales, saying that new energy consumption is still driven by policies.
In 2019, data from the National Information Center showed that commercial vehicles and commercial passenger vehicles accounted for more than 50% of the 1 million new energy vehicle sales that year. The number of passenger vehicles purchased privately was 464,000. The number of restricted cities is 208,000, accounting for 44.83%, of which only 44,000 are voluntary purchases that are not affected by the policy, accounting for only 9.48% of the total sales of four-person passenger vehicles.
It can be said that new energy vehicles are still a policy-driven industry. “The same is true for public charging piles. State Grid and China Southern Power Grid are going to build charging networks. It is the central enterprises that have to bear corresponding social responsibilities. Since the first year of charging piles in 2014, many charging service providers have emerged as a result of policies and subsidies. .” Yu Xiang told Sina Technology.
As the policy declines, auto companies that put sales as their top priority are faced with two choices. Among them, some car companies choose to increase their investment in charging services and product technology research and development at the same time, and some car companies choose to pack lightly, give more charging services to third-party service providers, and focus on product technology research and development. .
Tesla and Weilai, both named and praised by Li Xiang, will continue to increase their investment in charging and swapping networks. In 2020, Tesla has accelerated the construction of its charging network in China. Based on the existing 2500 super charging piles and 2,400 destination charging piles, it plans to deploy more than 4000 super charging piles in China throughout the year, twice Total construction in the past five years.
Qin Lihong, co-founder and president of NIO, revealed to Sina Technology that the Athena system is one of the four major back-end systems specifically for NIO’s energy, resource distribution and planning. It can simulate in a real environment with the increase in the number of users, the changes in the user line and the place of residence, and match and dispatch Weilai’s cars, stations, piles, people and clouds. Secondly, NIO can be used to perform sand table deductions to help optimize the layout of power replacement stations.
On the other hand, Xiaopeng Motors has begun to pilot free self-operated public charging stations in cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Hangzhou. In other cities, it is mostly operated by third parties, using a combination of self-operated and third-party methods to provide car owners charging services. “Charging is a very important service. Although self-operated can provide a better service experience, the power is limited after all.” An employee of Xiaopeng Automobile told Sina Technology.
According to Xiaopeng’s official data, as of June 30, 2020, Xiaopeng has 114 super charging stations nationwide and has access to 200,000 third-party charging stations.
With the excessive number of third-party charging stations connected, Xiaopeng is also facing new after-sales problems. “Many Xiaopeng car owners found that the third-party charging station was unavailable after arriving at the destination, so they directly complained to us. If it is really a third-party fault, it is difficult for us to solve it, and we can only give feedback to the third party.” Peng Auto employees told Sina Technology.
This is also true for Weimar vehicles that rely entirely on third-party charging stations and do not have self-operated charging stations. “Indeed, we ourselves often receive complaints from car owners of different brands. Third-party charging stations are not easy to use, there are problems with malfunctions, and there are problems with deductions. There are various problems.” Yu Xiang revealed to Sina Technology, but in addition On the one hand, whether car companies want to build self-operated charging networks is also based on their own development considerations, and there is no right or wrong.
For auto companies, it is more urgent to save the decline of the overall market and the growth of competitors in market segments. The market shrinks and competitors grow, which means that the space relative to itself is getting smaller and smaller.
However, data from the China Automobile Association shows that from January to August 2020, the total domestic passenger vehicle sales fell by 15.4%, but the sales of new energy vehicles decreased by 26.4% year-on-year, of which pure electric vehicles decreased by 27.8% year-on-year. The overall auto market is going down, and pure electric new energy vehicles “leading the market” also means that car companies need to think of more ways to allow users to buy new energy vehicles.
In the long run, electric vehicles are still the trend, but if the demand for “hydroelectricity and coal” in the new energy vehicle industry is not reasonably satisfied, then under this trend, there will be more and more contradictions.