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Automotive and New Mobility
Automotive and New Mobility / 27 May 2019
A rather surprising collaboration
Our world is one of collaboration. Particularly in the auto sector that passes through a massive transformation, no single market actor is any longer able to play it alone and needs partners.
After archrivals like Mercedes-Benz and BMW have been teaming up to face the new challenges together one might have thought that there is no more surprise; until just a few days ago, when Guangzhou Automotive (GAC Motor) and Nio announced the launch of their new joint EV brand Hycan (合创). It is a novelty that a start-up company joins forces with a long-established state-owned car maker. And while Nio itself only was founded 5 years ago, GAC Motor has started their own NEV division just a couple of years ago, with a new EV brand, Aion.
This cooperation has been in the making for a little while already, since GAC Motor and Nio formally set up their JV company in December 2017. It is obvious what attracts the two parties to each other: GAC Motor gets access to the IT savviness of a comparably small start-up; Nio, on the other hand, benefits from GAC’s experience in car manufacturing; among the various Chinese vehicle makers, especially GAC Motor has made great progress in perceived quality in the recent years.
What is in a brand?
The EV development dynamic in China is indeed captivating, it has led to a flurry of new EV brands, though. Even in a market as big as China, many of them will rather soon phase out if they are not able to attract the new generation of car consumers. Then, what will be the proposition of the new Hycan (合创) brand that sets it apart from all the other contenders, in particular from Nio and Aion?
Among the new car companies, a lot of efforts are put into the question of how to stretch the brand from an automotive towards a mobility brand, and how to connect appropriately with the potential new and mostly young customers. Yet, the most basic question, that is, what does the brand stand for and what is its value proposition to consumers, is often neglected. And efforts to design a visual cue that carries the brand identity sometimes lack inspiration! Building a brand is more than just assigning a name and a logo, and requires above all strategy, focus and stamina, besides vision and a bag of money.
A blessing in disguise?
The constant addition of new brands with not seldom unclear profiles and possibly short shelf-lives could become an opportunity for established car makers in that consumer’s risk to get lost and even confused in an ever more complex landscape of so many car brands. In the end, they may turn back to the well-known “traditional” car makers with their well-developed brand image for getting their divers mobility needs satisfied.
The emergence of new EV brands challenging the turf of established car companies, long considered as an existential threat for the latter, could eventually turn out for them as a blessing in disguise.