Chinese automaker Geely’s EVs to be used in Japan for fleet services
In an effort to reduce carbon footprints, China’s Geely, an automobile manufacturer, has partnered with Japan’s 3DOM to develop battery packs for the new commercial EV model E51, launched in March 2022 by Geely. The E51 model is an electric light commercial van, and will be sold by Geely to transportation companies and logistics providers.
Geely’s EV model E51, from 3DOM’s official website.
Founded in 1997, Geely is an Hangzhou-based global leading car manufacturer. Since 2017, Geely has been keen on developing electric vehicles, responding to China’s carbon neutrality initiative. Currently, the company has established approximately 100 battery-swapping stations across ten cities in China. In the recent Two Sessions, Geely’s founder Li Shufu spoke about the necessity of building more battery-swapping stations, speeding up the adoption of methanol-powered vehicles, and extracting domestic lithium resources.
3DOM, or “3-Dimensionally Ordered Macro-porous”, is a Japanese start-up founded in 2014 providing energy solutions. Originated from Tokyo Metropolitan University, the company specializes in the practical commercialization of high energy density lithium metal batteries.
In addition to co-developing batteries, 3DOM also plans to roll out “the world’s first carbon-neutral commercial fleet service”, through an affiliated company to be established, according to a news release by 3DOM. The service is said to be launched in 2023, starting in Japan.
3DOM sees two key barriers to the mass application of electric commercial vehicles, higher pricing than gasoline vehicles due to battery costs, and insufficient charging networks. To address these issues, 3DOM will set up a car leasing service, reducing the financial burden for customers, as well as develop new battery technology to enable battery second use and reduced battery cost per charge/discharge.
Long established in the automobile industry, Japan is home to some of the biggest and best-selling carmakers in the world. Traditionally, it has been hard for foreign carmakers to penetrate the Japanese market. In recent years, as the pandemic fosters the growth of e-commerce in Japan, and the country aims to cut emissions, logistic companies find themselves in need of cheaper and greener vehicles.
Chinese carmakers see an in. “Japanese EVs don’t meet our costs,” said Masahiko Kamata, president of Japanese logistic company SBS Holdings, citing from a Bloomberg report. “Japanese carmakers say it’s impossible to lower prices, so we had to buy cheaper vehicles. We can’t ask our customers to accept increased fares just because we have more expensive trucks,” Kamata adds.
Tokyo-based logistic company SBS Holdings has struck a deal with EV company Folofly, to purchase 2,000 light EV trucks over five years, manufactured by Chinese carmakers such as Dongfeng Motor Group.
In addition, leading Japanese logistic company Sagawa Express, a subsidiary of Japan’s SG Holdings, announced last year that it will replace all 7,200 of its compact delivery vans with EVs manufactured by China’s Guangxi Automobile Group, on an Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) basis.