Leading new energy automobile company Skywell held a meeting in Beijing on Tuesday to officially release a new auto brand – Skyworth Automobile.
Instead of choosing to develop cars on its own, Skyworth Group transferred the right to use 11 trademarks to Skywell in late March. After the transfer, Tianmei Auto, a subsidiary of Skywell, was officially renamed Skyworth Auto. Huang Hongsheng, founder of Skyworth and chairman of Skywell, said that the latter intends to go public this year.
In fact, Huang has explored the automotive field ten years ago when he, as the founder of Skyworth, established Skywell in Nanjing, Jiangsu province. After acquiring Nanjing Jinlong Bus Manufacturing Co., Skywell shifted its focus from traditional medium-sized buses to new energy vehicles. It officially entered the passenger car market in 2017 and released its first pure electric intermediate SUV – the Tianmei ET5 – in November 2020.
At the brand meeting on Tuesday, Skyworth demonstrated the new model’s voice control function and the large-scale adjustments for the driver’s seat in its first car, the Skyworth ET5 – which is actually the Tianmei ET5, the first product of Tianmei launched in October last year. The car is price ranges from 152,800 to 198,800 yuan, depending on different endurance capabilities.
Due to the depression of home appliance market, Skyworth’s revenue has been declining since 2016. According to its 2018 financial report, the firm’s net profits dropped sharply by more than 60% year-on-year.
Although Skywell’s auto sales have gradually increased, it has not enjoyed much attention from the public. From 2014 to 2019, the share of Skywell passenger cars in the new energy commercial vehicles market continued to grow, with the sales volume officially exceeding 10,000 units in 2017. In 2019, even though the level of new energy subsidies dropped, the manufacturer ranked second in the new energy bus industry with sales reaching 3.9 billion yuan.
At present, Skywell operates seven production bases, with nearly 1,000 employees responsible for research and development in China. According to Skywell, it has mastered the technology of batteries, motors and electronic control of new energy vehicles.
In 2019, it jointly established the Kuwo Smart Vehicle Technology Corporation with Skyworth. Based on the application scenarios of automobiles, it developed an intelligent network connection system providing full-time AI voice interaction and smart connection between vehicles and homes. Through this system, users can control various accessories with a single click.
This cooperation mode between Skywell and Skyworth can rapidly enhance the former’s brand influence in the new energy vehicle market and increase the exposure of the brand for the latter. However, there are some hidden risks. Once Skywell Auto encounters quality problems or user complaints, the reputation of Skyworth will likely also be affected.
In the future, Skyworth will launch two pure electric designs – one for medium and large SUVs and the other for multi-purpose vehicles. As of 2025, it plans to launch at least four brand-new pure electric vehicles, and form a full-power model product system, integrating with pure electric vehicles, hybrids and vehicles using other energy sources to meet the varying needs of consumers.
In terms of specific market strategies, Huang said Skyworth auto is mainly aimed at entrepreneurs and civil servants. He expects to sell 12,000 units this year, and 250,000 units in 2025. He also revealed that a extended-range model with a driving range of 1000 kilometers would be introduced in the second half of this year, and a three-compartment sedan would be introduced next year.
“Skyworth has invested 10 billion yuan to research an auto model that could meet business and passenger purposes. In the future, we will invest 30 billion yuan to reach a market value of 300 billion yuan. We will also spend great effort to train outstanding employees in the next 30 years.” Huang said.
Recently, Huawei, Baidu, Xiaomi, Didi and other tech giants have announced intentions to enter the intelligent electric vehicle sector. TCL, Hisense, Midea and other household electrical appliance enterprises have also joined the automobile industry supply chain in various ways.
In March 2020, Midea Group acquired an 18.73% share of Hekang New Energy Group, which operates the industrial chain of new energy vehicles and charging piles, for 743 million yuan. In March this year, Hisense Home Appliance planned to obtain a majority holding of Sanden Group, a Japanese automobile equipment manufacturer, for 1.3 billion yuan in order to expand its car air conditioning business.
Earlier this year, during the Chinese government’s annual high-stakes political meeting known as the “two sessions,” Li Dongsheng, the founder of TCL, told Beijing News that he would not consider producing a new energy vehicle in the future, instead focusing efforts on its core products.