A tycoon returns to shake up the electric vehicle market

Business & Technology

A summary of the top news in Chinese business and technology for August 14, 2017. Part of the daily SupChina newsletter, a convenient package of China’s business, political, and cultural news delivered to your inbox for free. Subscribe here.


Yang Rong 仰融 is not your everyday Chinese businessman. We previously wrote about him on SupChina here. Some highlights:

  • He made a fortune selling minivans in the early 2000s.
  • His company, Brilliance Auto, got in trouble with the Liaoning Province government, then led by the now-disgraced Bo Xilai 薄熙来, which seized Brilliance’s assets and accused Yang of embezzlement.
  • Yang left the country for California, from where he has continued to wield influence as the head of another automotive company, Hybrid Kinetic Group.

Hybrid Kinetic is now making big moves in China, with plans to “be in commercial production by 2020 and… make 1m electric cars a year in China” — even though just 507,000 electric vehicles were sold in the country last year, the Financial Times reports (paywall). The FT also notes that Yang himself appears to have regained favor with the Chinese authorities, as he reportedly “regularly travels between the U.S., Hong Kong and mainland China for work and has been in contact with Chinese auto regulatory bodies.”

The company has not yet acquired a manufacturing permit to mass produce electric vehicles in China. But with grand goals and a dynamic boss, this is a company — and a person — to watch.

—Lucas Niewenhuis