Zhiji Auto "overturned" with traffic, how can new energy vehicle companies alleviate traffic anxiety?

author:Great River Finance Cube
【Dahe Finance Cube Reporter Si Gaoyan Intern Lan Xiaoyu】

On April 11, Zhiji Auto posted on social platforms that it had been subjected to collective cyberbullying. The incident originated from the previous Zhiji new car press conference, in which Zhiji Auto mismarked the configuration parameters of the benchmark model Xiaomi SU7, triggering Xiaomi Auto's "three consecutive accountability", and finally ended with an official apology from Zhiji Auto. However, after the three apology letters, Zhiji Auto's live broadcast room and comment area continued to be "held accountable".

At present, the competition of new energy vehicles has entered a white-hot stage, the role of traffic and public opinion has been continuously amplified, and the competition for traffic has also been paid more attention by major car companies, but whether the traffic can be turned into sales? How to control the effect of the flow?

Eaten by traffic?

Zhiji Auto reported that it had suffered collective cyber violence

Liu Tao, CEO of Zhiji Automobile, once said frankly that Zhiji Auto is eager for traffic, but now this wave of "rubbing traffic" has hit his own feet.

On April 11, Zhiji Auto stated in a public report letter on social platforms that Zhiji Auto Technology Co., Ltd. made a real-name report on the vicious incident of organized cyber violence and traffic bullying from April 9, 2024, which directly affected the normal business activities and business reputation of the company.

In response to the above-mentioned public report letter, the reporter of Dahe Finance Cube called Zhiji Automobile. The staff of Zhiji Auto said that the company is actively paying attention to and dealing with the corresponding communication problems, and there are no corresponding results for the time being. If there are corresponding results in the future, they will be released on official channels.

On April 10, Zhiji Auto announced on its official Weibo account that it would continue to publicize the rampant cyberbullying if necessary.

The public whistleblowing incident stemmed from the previous launch of its new car. On April 8, at the launch of the new Zhiji L6 car, Zhiji Auto marked the wrong configuration parameters of Xiaomi Auto SU7, which caused strong dissatisfaction with Xiaomi Auto. On the same day, Xiaomi Auto posted three Weibo posts in a row, asking Zhiji Auto to revise and apologize. From that night to the afternoon of April 9, Zhiji Auto made three apologies.

It is worth mentioning that in this public relations battle of "you come and go", Zhiji Auto has frequently appeared on the hot search, and its new car has also achieved the best pre-sale results since its establishment. However, in the eyes of industry insiders, although Zhiji Auto's marketing methods have attracted traffic, it will also hurt its own reputation.

According to the official website, Zhiji Auto was established in 2020 and is a new user-oriented automotive science and technology innovation company jointly built by SAIC, Zhangjiang Hi-Tech and Alibaba Group. Among them, SAIC holds 54% of the shares, Zhangjiang Hi-Tech and Alibaba each hold 18%. SAIC Motor provides Zhiji Auto with its financial resources and experience in car manufacturing, Zhangjiang Hi-Tech Park empowers it with its high-tech industrial cluster ecology and core technologies such as AI and chips, and Alibaba's Alibaba Cloud and Damo Academy make up for its other shortcomings.

Zhiji Auto "rubbed" behind the traffic

SAIC's net profit and sales volume both declined

At the same time that Zhiji Automobile was in "trouble", the "old club" SAIC Group was also troubled by the decline in performance and sales.

On March 29, SAIC Motor released its 2023 annual report. According to the financial report, in 2023, SAIC Group will achieve a total operating income of 744.705 billion yuan, a year-on-year increase of 0.09%, and a net profit attributable to the parent company of 14.106 billion yuan, a year-on-year decrease of 12.48%.

In terms of vehicle sales, the financial report data shows that in 2023, SAIC's vehicle sales will reach 5.021 million units, a year-on-year decrease of 5.31%, ranking first in the industry for 18 consecutive years. Among them, the sales of self-owned brand vehicles were 2.775 million units, accounting for more than 55% of the company's sales, an increase of 2.5% over 2022, the sales of new energy vehicles were 1.123 million units, a year-on-year increase of 4.6%, and the sales of overseas markets were 1.208 million units, a year-on-year increase of 18.8%.

In fact, this is not the first time that SAIC's net profit attributable to the parent company has declined. In addition, SAIC's vehicle sales have also declined since 2019.

Financial data show that in 2019, SAIC's net profit attributable to the parent company was 25.603 billion yuan, a year-on-year decrease of 28.90%, and in the same period, vehicle sales were 6.238 million units, a year-on-year decrease of 11.54%. In 2020, SAIC's net profit attributable to the parent company was 20.431 billion yuan, down 20.20% year-on-year, and vehicle sales in the same period were 5.6 million units, down 10.2% year-on-year.

In 2021, SAIC's net profit attributable to the parent company increased to 24.533 billion yuan, a year-on-year increase of 20.08%, but the vehicle sales did not stop falling in the same period, reaching 5.464 million units, a year-on-year decrease of 2.43%. In 2022, SAIC's net profit attributable to the parent company will decline again, to 16.118 billion yuan, a year-on-year decrease of 34.30%, and in the same period, vehicle sales will be 5.303 million units, a year-on-year decrease of 2.95%.

In the face of intensified competition in the new energy industry, SAIC Motor released the "Three-Year Action Plan for the Development of New Energy Vehicles" in 2023: by 2025, SAIC's annual sales of new energy vehicles will reach 3.5 million units, an increase of 2.5 times compared with 2022, with a compound annual growth rate of 50%, of which the proportion of independent brands in the overall sales of new energy vehicles will reach 70%;

However, at present, SAIC's new energy vehicle sales target is not easy to achieve. According to the data, SAIC's new energy independent brands mainly include Zhiji, Feifan, Roewe, MG and MAXUS. Among them, Feifan Automobile and Zhiji Automobile, as the "twins" of SAIC's key layout of new energy vehicles, do not seem to be developing smoothly.

In March this year, Feifan Auto was rumored to be undergoing large-scale layoffs, with the reduction rate reaching more than 70%. Subsequently, Feifan Automobile urgently issued a "clarification", saying that Feifan Automobile is currently "all right, please rest assured, and thank you for your concern", but did not mention whether it will lay off employees.

Zhiji Automobile has taken on part of the responsibility of increasing the sales of SAIC Group's new energy vehicles, and according to Cubic Public Opinion, Zhiji LS6 and Zhiji LS7 ranked 65th and 94th respectively in the 2023 Top 100 Retail List, with average sales performance. Now, Zhiji Auto has been collectively cyberbullied because of the wrong labeling of Xiaomi car configuration parameters at the new car press conference.

The domestic new energy vehicle competition can be described as a "fairy fight", can SAIC accelerate the increase in the market share of new energy vehicle brands and continue to maintain the position of the "big brother" in the industry?

Price war, traffic battle

New energy vehicles "volume" to a new height

According to the data of the Passenger Association, the retail sales of new energy passenger vehicles in 2023 will be 13.39 million, a year-on-year increase of 33%, and the penetration rate will exceed 30%. The cumulative retail sales from January ~ March 2024 were 4.829 million units, a year-on-year increase of 13.1%.

In the view of industry insiders, with the continuous launch of new models, the continuous transformation of consumers' minds and brand awareness, and the continuous sinking of the domestic new energy vehicle price system. The penetration rate of new energy vehicles in the overall retail market is expected to exceed 40% in 2024.

On April 12, the Ministry of Commerce, the National Development and Reform Commission, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, the Ministry of Finance and other 14 departments jointly issued the "Action Plan for Promoting the Trade-in of Consumer Goods", proposing to strive to achieve the accelerated elimination of passenger cars with emission standards of China III and below by 2025, and the recycling volume of scrapped vehicles will increase by 50% compared with 2023, and by 2027, the recycling volume of scrapped vehicles will double that of 2023, and the transaction volume of second-hand vehicles will increase by 45% compared with 2023. This means that the automotive market will usher in new growth.

In addition, in terms of going overseas, according to the data of the Passenger Car Association, since 2024, the export of passenger cars in mainland China has continued to grow strongly at the end of last year. In January~March, the cumulative export of passenger cars (including finished vehicles and CKD) in mainland China was 1.063 million units, a year-on-year increase of 36%.

Under the trend of rapid growth of new energy vehicles, the entry of Xiaomi Automobile has stirred up the "spring water" of the new energy vehicle market. In addition to the dizzying price war, the role of public opinion and traffic has been continuously amplified, becoming a "double-edged sword" that is difficult for car companies to grasp.

In March this year, the new car Ideal MEGA was launched, and it fell into the whirlpool of public opinion due to styling problems, and the silence of Ideal Sales and Li Xiang, CEO of Ideal Auto, became the focus of everyone's tracking. Xiaomi Auto is from the announcement of the new car launch time to the official launch, the whole process has attracted much attention, 24 hours on the market, Dading reached 88,898 units. But then, #小米汽车被曝出现多起退定投诉#等话题登上热搜.

In the view of Jia Zhichao, co-founder of the Pattern Research Institute and chief observer of automobiles, in the current new energy vehicle market, new products are iterating rapidly, new technologies are changing with each passing day, and traffic has become a factor that cannot be ignored. Traffic not only represents the attention of brands and products, but also an important indicator of market influence and consumer interest. Major car companies are looking for ways to capture consumers' attention and increase brand awareness and market share.

However, in the process of pursuing traffic, enterprises still need to adhere to the principles of integrity and professionalism, ensure the accuracy and fairness of information, and formulate more refined and intelligent strategies. Because a temporary traffic peak cannot replace continuous brand loyalty and user satisfaction, only through continuous innovation and improvement can we achieve sustainable development in the new energy vehicle market and win the trust and support of consumers. Jia Zhichao said.

责编:王时丹 | 审校:陈筱娟 | 审核:李震 | 监审:万军伟

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