Future of the electric vehicle industry in China

All the electric car companies in China — a guide to the 31 top players in the Chinese EV industry

Business & Technology
Illustration by Derek Zheng

Electric vehicles and smart systems to drive them are attracting enormous sums of capital and China’s best engineering talent. These are the companies that are fighting for one of the most lucrative markets in the world. Many of them will be global EV players.


This article was updated on May 12 with news items for multiple companies, plus the additions of four more EV manufacturers to our list: SAIC Motor, SAIC Volkswagen, Chery Automobile, FAW Group.


With mainstream consumer acceptance and government support, China’s electric vehicle (EV) sector is booming. At the same time that China is trying to say goodbye to gas and hello to batteries, Chinese companies are accelerating their development of autonomous features and fully self-driving cars. Cars are computers now, and it will be more and more difficult to make a meaningful distinction between the electric vehicle and autonomous vehicle industries.

According to estimates by both banks HSBC and UBS, three out of five new cars sold in China will be electric by 2030. That would mean around 18 million EVs, and a market size of $360 billion, if the average car cost $20,000. And that’s just for the cars: Secondary industries will bloom in financing, navigation, software, autonomous hardware components, traffic surveillance, and more.

China has one EV veteran — BYD, or Build Your Dream — the Warren Buffett–backed automaker that has been making electric models since 2008. However, Tesla currently makes the best-selling electric cars in the Chinese market. Now everyone else is piling into the industry, from Chinese state-owned auto groups like SAIC to foreign companies like VW, from indebted real estate groups like Evergrande to tech giants like Tencent, Huawei, Baidu, and Didi Chuxing.

So who is who in EVs in China? Utilizing Chinese- and English-language sources, SupChina has compiled information on all the companies currently fighting for a slice of China’s EV pie. Some work strictly in software (for now), but we’ve included them because “smart” features like autonomous driving and mobile device integration are critical to the future EV ecosystem. EV makers use the terms “smart” and “connected” to refer to technology that automates certain tasks by relying on predictive algorithms or connectivity to other devices or a network.

We’re missing some numbers and basic facts, many of which are not in the public domain, as the companies involved are privately held, but we will continue to add to and correct this list as we find authoritative information. We welcome any tips for additional key information at editors@supchina.com.

We have also not included non-electric new energy vehicles, such as hydrogen-powered cars, where China is also a significant global innovator.

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List of EV makers

Roughly in order of EV units shipped (click to jump to each entry; to jump back here, click any logo):

  1. Tesla
  2. BYD
  3. SAIC Motor
  4. SAIC Volkswagen
  5. SAIC-GM-Wuling
  6. NIO
  7. Xpeng
  8. Li Auto
  9. WM Motor
  10. Geely
  11. Byton
  12. Enovate
  13. Zhiji
  14. Xiaomi
  15. Dongfeng Motor
  16. Chang’an Automobile
  17. Guangzhou Automobile
  18. Chery Automobile
  19. FAW Group
  20. FAW-Volkswagen Automobile
  21. Evergrande
  22. BAIC Motor

List of software and service providers

In alphabetical order (click to jump to each entry):

  1. Alibaba
  2. Baidu
  3. ByteDance
  4. Didi Chuxing
  5. DJI
  6. Huawei
  7. JD
  8. Meituan
  9. Tencent

Tesla (Nasdaq: TSLA)

  • Units shipped: 500,000 (2020)
  • Revenues in China: 43 billion yuan / $6.6 billion (2020)
  • Number of models: 4
  • Number of factories: 4
  • Number of employees: 70,757
  • Primary industry: Electric vehicle, battery energy storage

Headquartered in Palo Alto, California, the company rocked the first quarter of 2021 thanks to rising car sales in China, where a new Shanghai gigafactory began production in January 2020. With blessings from Beijing, Tesla is the only foreign company to own 100% of an EV factory in the country. Its reliance on China — both in terms of supply chains and Chinese consumer demand — is slated to grow over time.

Timeline:

BYD Auto (HKSE: 1211) (SZSE: 002594)

  • Units shipped: 130,970 (2020)
  • Revenues: 153.5 billion yuan / $23.4 billion (2020)
  • Number of models: 5
  • Number of factories: 13
  • Number of employees: 229,154 (2020)
  • Primary industry: Electric vehicles
  • Primary industry of parent: IT, rechargeable batteries, handset electronics, energy storage, electric bikes, urban rail transit systems
  • EV-related affiliates: Toyota, Didi, FAW

BYD Auto, or Build Your Dreams (比亚迪 bǐyàdí), is the EV subsidiary of Chinese multinational BYD Company. Founded in 1995 with headquarters in Shenzhen and downtown Los Angeles, BYD began as a rechargeable battery business in the IT sector before branching into handset electronics, and then automobiles, including EVs. The company is now moving into other businesses, including renewable energy power plants, LEDs, and urban rail transit systems.

In the span of a decade, BYD became the largest Chinese battery manufacturer, capturing half the world’s mobile-phone battery market. Its EV unit was born in 2002 from an acquisition of Tsinchuan Automobile, then the sixth-largest car manufacturer in China by sales volume. Aside from its own EVs, BYD also supplies other EV manufacturers, including state-owned FAW Group.

Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway owns 8% of BYD. In April 2020, BYD and Toyota Motors announced a joint partnership in a new company — BYD Toyota EV Technology — that will research and manufacture EVs for the Chinese market.

Timeline:

SAIC Motor (SHA: 600104)

  • Units shipped: Number of EVs not available
  • Revenues: 742 billion yuan / $113 billion (2020)
  • Number of factories: N/A
  • Number of models: N/A
  • Number of employees: 147,738 (2019)
  • Primary industry: Gas-powered cars, commercial vehicles
  • EV-related affiliates: GM, Wuling, Volkswagen, Zhiji, Alibaba

SAIC Motor (上汽集团 shàngqì jítuán) is China’s biggest traditional automaker. Headquartered in Shanghai, with origins dating back to the 1940s, it has recently made a concerted transition from gas-powered cars to electric vehicles.

SAIC is a major presence in China’s electric vehicle market because of longstanding joint ventures with foreign automakers that have recently enjoyed success in the sector. They include SAIC-Volkswagen and SAIC-GM-Wuling. More recently, SAIC has also joined together with Alibaba to create Zhiji, a pure electric vehicle brand.

Timeline:

SAIC Volkswagen Automotive (SHA: 600104) (OTC: VWAGY)

  • Units shipped in China: N/A
  • Revenues: N/A
  • Number of factories: 1
  • Number of models: 3
  • Number of employees: 96,974 (2020)
  • Primary industry: Electric vehicles
  • Primary industry of parent(s): Gas-powered cars, commercial vehicles, autoparts
  • EV-related affiliates: SAIC, Volkswagen, Audi

SAIC Volkswagen, founded in 1984, is one of the oldest sino-foreign auto partnerships. Headquartered in Shanghai, it is owned 50% by Volkswagen and 50% by SAIC, China’s biggest traditional automaker. It sells cars under the Volkswagen and Skoda brands. SAIC Volkswagen now has three all-electric models: The ID.3 hatchback available in Europe, the ID.4 which is selling in the U.S., and now the ID.6. which is designed specifically for the Chinese market.

Timeline:

SAIC-GM-Wuling (SHA: 600104) (NYSE: GM) (HKG: 0305)

  • Units shipped: Number of EVs not available
  • Revenues: 3.5 billion yuan / $533.53 million (2020)
  • Number of factories: 12
  • Number of models: 3
  • Number of employees: 147,738 (2019)
  • Primary industry: Electric vehicles
  • Primary industry of parent(s): Gas-powered cars, commercial vehicles, autoparts
  • EV-related affiliates: SAIC, GM, Wuling

SAIC-GM-Wuling (上汽通用五菱 shàngqì tōngyòng wǔlíng) is a joint venture between SAIC Motor Corp, Wuling Motors, and General Motors. The joint venture began in 2002 as a highly successful maker of commercial minivans. Its first EV — a micro-EV called the Wuling Hongguang Mini EV — outsold the Tesla 3 nearly two-to-one in February 2021. It is priced at $4,162 to $5,607, making it China’s cheapest EV. Wuling is a state-backed automaker, which, along with cars, makes trucks, buses, and autoparts.

Parent company SAIC has also partnered with Alibaba (see entry list for Zhiji) and Volkswagen (SAIC-Volkswagen) to make smart EVs.

Timeline:

NIO (NYSE: NIO)

  • Units shipped: 43,728 (2020)
  • Revenues: 16.25 billion yuan / $2.5 billion (2020)
  • Number of models: 5
  • Number of factories: 1
  • Number of employees: 7,000+ (2020)
  • Primary industry: Electric vehicles
  • EV-related affiliates: Tencent, Baidu

NIO (蔚来 wèilái) is a Chinese manufacturer of smart EVs. Founded in November 2014 and headquartered in Shanghai, the company was launched by CEO William Li (李斌 Lǐ Bīn), the founder of BitAuto (NYSE: BITA), with backing from several other tech executives, most notably the CEO of JD.com (NASDAQ: JD). The company’s investors include Tencent, Baidu, Sequoia, and Warburg Pincus.

NIO’s main products include an electric formula race car along with its ES8, ES6, and EC6 models for the general public. The company recently launched its ET7 model, its first smart electric sedan. In 2018, NIO filed for an initial public offering on the New York Stock Exchange, raising $1.8 billion. Its advanced driver assistance system, known as NIO Pilot, is a direct competitor with Tesla’s Autopilot. The startup has yet to turn a profit.

NIO has been through some rough times. See: Will NIO survive long enough to reap China’s electric car rewards?

Timeline:

Xpeng (NYSE: XPEV)

  • Units shipped: 27,041 (2020)
  • Revenues: $895.7 million (2020)
  • Number of models: 3
  • Number of factories: 1
  • Number of employees: 3,676 (2020)
  • Primary industry: Electric vehicles
  • EV-related affiliates: Alibaba, JD, Xiaomi

Smart EV maker Xpeng (小鹏 xiǎopéng) was founded in August 2014 by former Alibaba executive and namesake Hé Xiǎopéng 何小鹏. The company is headquartered in Guangzhou with an office in Mountain View, California. The senior executive team consists of former employees of Guangzhou Auto, a top Chinese manufacturer, Ford, BMW, and Tesla.

In addition to Alibaba, which currently owns a 14% stake in the startup, Xpeng has drawn its employees from many well-known tech giants, including Xiaomi, Tencent, Samsung, and Huawei. Their expertise has helped Xpeng become competitive in smart car technologies.

On November 13, 2019, the startup completed a $400 million Series C financing round with investors including Xiaomi and the company founder, He. On April 13, 2021, the company announced that it was considering making its own semiconductors. Currently, for its P5 model, debuting in the Shanghai Auto Show on April 21, the company buys chips from Nvidia for autonomous driving and from Qualcomm for its in-car digital cockpit.

Timeline:

Li Auto (NASDAQ: LI)

  • Units shipped: 14,464 (2020)
  • Revenues: $1.45 billion
  • Number of models: 1
  • Number of factories: 1
  • Number of employees: 2,628 (2019)
  • Primary industry: Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles
  • EV-related affiliates: Meituan, ByteDance

Li Auto (理想 lǐxiǎng) is a smart EV manufacturer founded in 2015 and headquartered in Beijing. The company also goes by its older name, CHJ Automotive (车和家汽车). The six-year-old startup is backed by Meituan, one of China’s largest ecommerce and consumer services apps, and ByteDance, the owner of short-video app TikTok.

Unlike most other EV makers, Li Auto specializes in plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs), which can be powered by either gasoline or electricity. The company began selling its first model in 2019. In June 2019, the company received $300 million in funding from Meituan CEO Wáng Xìng 王兴 and $30 million from ByteDance. On July 30, 2020, Li Auto raised $1.1 billion in an initial public offering on the Nasdaq, valuing it at $10 billion.

Timeline:

WM Motor Technology

  • Units shipped: 22,495 (2020)
  • Revenues: $78 million yuan / $12 million
  • Number of factories: 1
  • Number of models: 3
  • Number of employees: 2,500
  • Primary industry: Electric vehicles
  • EV-related affiliates: Baidu, Tencent, SAIC

WM Motor Technology (威马 wēimǎ) is a Shanghai-based intelligent EV company selling under the Weltmeister brand.

Founded in 2015, it launched its first production car, the EX5, in May 2018 and shipped its first fully electric vehicle in September of the same year. WM’s investors include Chinese technology giants Baidu and Tencent, along with Sequoia Capital and government-backed investment funds. WM Motor maintains R&D facilities in China, Germany, and the U.S.

WM Motor’s founder, Freeman Shen (沈晖 Shěn Huī), is a former executive at Geely and the chairman of Geely-owned Volvo’s China operations. Prior to WM, Shen co-founded and was the CEO of Pateo Group, a vehicle connectivity and telematics company.

Timeline:

Geely (SEHK: 175)

  • Units shipped: Number of EVs not available
  • Revenues: 5.53 billion yuan / $850 million (2020)
  • Number of factories: 2
  • Number of models: 5
  • Primary industry: Gas-powered vehicles, electrics vehicles
  • EV-related affiliates: Baidu, London Taxi Company, JD.com

Geely (吉利 jílì), or Zhejiang Geely Holding Group, is one of China’s largest traditional automakers, but it has recently begun making the switch from gas-powered cars to EVs.

The company is privately owned by Chinese billionaire Lǐ Shūfú 李书福. Geely has global operations spanning the automotive value chain, from research, development, and design to production, sales, and service. Apart from cars, Geely also has businesses in education, motorsports, and tourism. Geely acquired the Volvo brand from Ford in 2010.

Geely has a number of EV-related subsidiaries. These include Volvo, Geometry, Lynk & Co, and Zeekr, all of which featured EVs during the Shanghai Auto Show in April 2021. It also manufactures premium electric race cars under its Sino-Swedish brand, Polestar. Geely’s electric vehicle ambitions are also present in its unusual acquisition of the iconic London Taxi Company in 2013. In 2017, Geely changed the taxi maker’s name to the London Electric Vehicle Company, and opened an EV plant in Antsy, Coventry, to manufacture extended-range EV taxis. Geely’s main EV assembly plant is in Hangzhou, Zhejiang.

Timeline:

Byton (formerly Future Mobility)

  • Units shipped: N/A
  • Revenues: N/A
  • Number of factories: 1
  • Number of models: 2
  • Primary industry: Electric vehicles
  • EV-related affiliates: Tencent, Foxconn, FAW, Nanjing Zhixing

Byton (拜腾 bàiténg), formerly Future Mobility, is an EV startup headquartered in Nanjing. Founded in 2015, it spun off from a joint venture between internet giant Tencent, electronics manufacturer Foxconn, and luxury-car dealer Harmony New Energy Auto, and was co-founded by former BMW and Nissan executives. The EV startup had planned to sell premium all-electric, fully autonomous cars, but temporarily halted operations in July 2020 due to financial problems exacerbated by COVID-19.

  • In September 2020, Nanjing Zhixing New Energy Automobile Technology (南京知行新能源技术) became the new owner of the brand.
  • Chinese automaker FAW, which has its own separate EV venture, now holds a 23% stake in the startup.
  • In January 2021, Taiwan’s Foxconn announced it would take a $200 million stake in the company.

Byton currently has two EVs — the M-Byte and K-Byte — and hopes to start mass-producing its M-Byte vehicle by the first quarter of 2022.

Timeline:

Enovate

  • Units shipped: N/A
  • Revenues: N/A
  • Number of factories: 1
  • Number of models: 2
  • Primary industry: Electric vehicles
  • Primary industry of parent: Technology, software, transportation

Enovate (天际 tiānjì) is an electric car company founded in 2015 under Zhejiang Dianka Automobile Technology (浙江电咖汽车). Zhejiang Dianka provides a range of technology and software services along with the manufacturing of other electrical and transportation components.

Enovate has launched two models: the Dearcc EV10 and Enovate ME7. It intends to create intelligent vehicles through its proprietary system known as ME Pilot.

Timeline:

Zhiji (SAIC-Alibaba)

  • Units shipped: N/A
  • Revenues: N/A
  • Number of factories: 1
  • Number of models: 2
  • Primary industry: Electric vehicles
  • EV-related affiliates: SAIC, Alibaba

Zhiji Auto (智己 zhìjǐ) was founded in December 2020 as a joint venture between China’s largest automaker, SAIC, and internet titan Alibaba. The venture was spun off from a $1 billion fund in November 2020 sponsored by SAIC, Zhangjiang High-Tech (张江高科), and Hengxu Capital (恒旭资本), which intended to work with Alibaba on “high-end smart electric vehicle projects.” On January 13, 2021, Zhiji debuted its first EV model, “IM-Zhiji.” The company expects to make its first deliveries in 2022.

Timeline:

Xiaomi (HKG: 0810)

  • Units shipped: N/A
  • Revenue: $37.63 billion (2020)
  • Number of factories: N/A
  • Number of models: N/A
  • Number of employees: 22,074 (2020)
  • Primary industry: Consumer electronics, consumer hardware
  • EV-related affiliates: Xpeng

Xiaomi (小米 xiǎomǐ) is a consumer electronics giant sometimes compared with Apple because of its loyal customer base and production of smartphones, mobile apps, laptops, and home appliances.

Founded in 2010 with headquarters in Beijing, the tech giant is the world’s third-largest smartphone maker behind Samsung and Huawei, but surpassing Apple. As of 2018, Xiaomi has a presence in more than 80 countries and regions worldwide. On July 9, 2018, Xiaomi successfully listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in the largest tech IPO in Hong Kong.

Xiaomi has been active as an investor in the EV space, backing the Chinese smart EV upstart Xpeng. But on March 30, 2021, Xiaomi announced its intention to enter the EV market on its own terms, spinning off a wholly owned subsidiary led by the CEO, Léi Jūn 雷军. It plans to invest $10 billion into the project over 10 years. Lei called the decision “the final major entrepreneurial project of his life” and suggested that the company’s recent change of logo was in response to the new venture.

Timeline:

Dongfeng Motor Corporation (SEHK: 0489)

  • Units shipped: Number of EVs not available
  • Revenues: 834 billion yuan / $128 billion (2020)
  • Number of factories: 1
  • Number of models: 3
  • Number of employees: 136,550 (2020)
  • Primary industry: Gas-powered cars, trucks, buses, military vehicles, autoparts
  • EV-related affiliates: Renault-Nissan, CATL, Huawei, Tencent

Dongfeng Motor Corporation (东风 dōngfēng) is a Chinese state-owned automaker headquartered in Wuhan. Founded in 2001, it is one of the “Big Four” Chinese automakers alongside SAIC, FAW, and Changan Automobile, and makes trucks, buses, and passenger cars as well as doing auto financing and related businesses. Dongfeng has a total of 13 subsidiaries under its brand, among them joint ventures with many foreign automakers such as Honda, Renault, Nissan, and Peugeot-Citroën.

Dongfeng currently has one pure electric sub-brand called Skio, which offers three models.

Timeline:

Chang’an Automobile (SHE: 000625)

  • Units shipped: Number of EVs not available
  • Revenues: 68.1 billion yuan / $9.9 billion (2019)
  • Number of factories: N/A
  • Number of models: 12
  • Number of employees: 80,000 (2020)
  • Primary industry: Gas-powered cars, microvans, commercial vans, light trucks
  • EV-related affiliates: Baidu, Huawei, CATL

Chang’an Automobile (长安 cháng’ān) is a Chinese state-owned automaker headquartered in Chongqing and a subsidiary of Chang’an Automobile Group. Founded in 1862, it is one of the “Big Four” Chinese automakers alongside SAIC, FAW, and Dongfeng. As a longtime player in China’s auto industry, Chang’an has a global footprint with 16 global production bases, 35 vehicle and engine plants, and 10 key overseas markets. It has been selected twice in CCTV’s “National Brand Project,” which bestows “national brand” status on certain brands.

Like other state-owned automakers, Chang’an has joint ventures with Western and Japanese counterparts, specifically Ford and Mazda. The company began exploring the smart EV space in 2016, announcing a formal partnership with Baidu in 2017. Last year, Chang’an also announced plans to work with Huawei on smart car tech. In August 2020, Chang’an released the first purely electric vehicle, a compact SUV, under its Oshan brand, the Oshan X7 EV.

Timeline:

Guangzhou Automobile Group (SEHK: 2238)

  • Units shipped: 6,876
  • Revenues: 59.1 billion yuan / $9.1 billion (2020)
  • Number of factories: 2
  • Number of models: 7
  • Number of employees: 93,854 (2019)
  • Primary industry: Gas-powered cars, commercial vehicles, sports vehicles, motorcycles, auto parts
  • EV-related affiliates: SAIC, Huawei, CATL

Guangzhou Automobile Group (GAC) is a Chinese automaker owned by the Guangzhou municipal government. In size, it usually ranks outside China’s “Big Four” automakers FAW, Dongfeng, Chang’an, and SAIC Motor. Established in 1997 with headquarters in Guangzhou, GAC is listed on the Hong Kong and Shanghai stock exchanges.

Its electric arm, known as Guangzhou New Energy Automobile, sells cars under the Aion brand.

Like other state-owned enterprises, GAC has established joint ventures with several foreign automakers, including Honda, Toyota, Mitsubishi, Isuzu, and Fiat Chrysler. Honda and Toyota cars account for about 70% of GAC’s total sales. GAC also sells its own brand of cars, the most popular known as Trumpchi.

Timeline:

Chery Automobile

  • Units shipped: N/A
  • Revenues: $5.6 billion worldwide (2020)
  • Number of factories: 2
  • Number of models: 10
  • Number of employees: 16,721 (2020)
  • Primary industry: Gas-powered cars, commercial vehicles, auto parts
  • EV-related affiliates: N/A

Chery Automobile (奇瑞 qíruì) is a state-owned automaker headquartered in Anhui. Founded in 1997, Chery primarily manufactures gas-powered cars, minivans, and SUVs. However, it was the second automaker in China, behind BYD, to transition to electric vehicles, churning out its first model in the early 2000s. It began investing heavily in the industry by 2011 and now has 10 pure electric models. Chery is also China’s top auto exporter and, unlike its other state-owned counterparts, it does not have joint ventures with any established western automakers.

Timeline:

FAW Group (SHE: 000800)

  • Units shipped: 550,869 (2021)
  • Revenues: 620 billion yuan / $89.2 billion (2019)
  • Number of factories: 1
  • Number of models: 3
  • Number of employees: 6,891
  • Primary industry of parent(s): Gas-powered cars, buses, trucks, auto parts
  • EV-related affiliates: BYD

FAW, or First Automotive Works (第一汽车集团 dìyī qìchē jítuán), is a state-owned enterprise headquartered in Changchun, Jilin, and one of the “Big Four” Chinese automakers. Its oldest marque is luxury car brand Hóngqí (红旗), founded in 1958. Cars branded Hongqi, which means “red flag,” were originally only for high-ranking Chinese Communist Party officials including Máo Zédōng 毛泽东. Hongqi now has three all-electric models: The E-HS3, the E-HS9, and the E-QM5. FAW announced that 91,900 units of Hongqi were shipped in the first 4 months of 2021, a 132% spike from last year.

Timeline:

FAW-Volkswagen Automobile (SHE: 000800)

  • Units shipped: N/A
  • Revenues: 620 billion yuan / $89.2 billion (2019)
  • Number of factories: 5
  • Number of models: 9
  • Number of employees: 100,000 (2019)
  • Primary industry of parent(s): Gas-powered cars, buses, trucks, auto parts
  • EV-related affiliates: FAW, Volkswagen, Audi

FAW-Volkswagen Automobile is a joint venture between Chinese automaker FAW Group and German automaker Volkswagen Group. Audi, which is wholly owned by Volkswagen, also has a 10% stake in the venture. Established in 1991, the joint venture began making passenger cars under the Volkswagen and Audi brands. In 2019, the company launched two electric sedans, “e-Bora” and “e-Golf.”

Timeline:

Evergrande (SEHK: 3333)

  • Units shipped: N/A
  • Revenues: 723.5 billion yuan / $110 million
  • Number of factories: 3
  • Number of models: 6
  • Primary industry: Electric vehicles
  • Primary industry of parent: Real estate
  • EV-related affiliates: Tencent

Evergrande Health was a subsidiary of Evergrande, one of China’s largest property developers, but probably also one of the world’s most indebted companies. In 2020, the unit was rebranded as Evergrande New Energy Vehicles (恒大新能源汽车), after announcing an investment of about $7 billion in EVs in November 2019.

With three production facilities in Nansha, Guangzhou, and Shanghai, Evergrande launched its first concept model under the brand Hengchi (恒驰) in 2020 and has showcased prototypes for nine models since August 2020. The subsidiary has yet to mass-produce any of them, however.

Timeline:

BAIC Motor (SEHK: 1958)

  • Units shipped: N/A
  • Revenue: 11.7 billion yuan / $1.8 billion (2016)
  • Number of factories: 3
  • Number of models: 20
  • Number of employees: 20,720
  • Primary industry: Gas-powered cars
  • Primary industry of parent: Gas-powered cars, trucks, military vehicles, buses, agriculture equipment
  • EV-related affiliates: Huawei, Didi, Daimler, BJEV, CATL

BAIC Motor (北京汽车 běijīng qìchē) is a state-owned enterprise and subsidiary of BAIC Group, which is itself a part of the Beijing Municipal Government.

Incorporated in 2010, it became a listed company in 2014. As of 2016, it holds a 50% stake in the China operations of Hyundai and Mercedes-Benz. It is one of the largest car manufacturers in China. In 2017, the company partnered up with German carmaker Daimler and spun off a subsidiary called Beijing Electric Vehicle (BJEV). BJEV’s primary car brand is called Arcfox, which now has four models, one of which is powered by Huawei’s intelligent vehicle software “Huawei Inside.”

In 2019, BJEV began a joint venture with ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing to explore projects related to EVs.

Timeline:

Software and service providers

Alibaba (NYSE: BABA) (SEHK: 9988)

  • Revenues: $72 billion (2020)
  • Number of employees: 117,600
  • Primary industry: Ecommerce, internet, technology
  • EV-related affiliations: SAIC, Xpeng

Alibaba (阿里巴巴 ālǐ bābā) is one of the world’s largest ecommerce companies. Founded in 1999 in Zhejiang, it hosts the largest B2B (Alibaba.com), C2C (Taobao), and B2C (Tmall) marketplaces in the world.

The company has a diverse set of other businesses, including artificial intelligence, cloud computing, and fintech. In January 2021, Alibaba set up an EV joint venture called Zhiji with China’s biggest automaker, SAIC Motors. The joint venture will launch mass production of two EVs with deliveries beginning in the first quarter of the year. One of Alibaba’s former executives, Hé Xiǎopéng (何小鹏), went on to found Xpeng.

Timeline:

Baidu (NASDAQ: BIDU)

  • Revenues: $16.4 billion (2020)
  • Number of employees: 45,887
  • Primary industry: Internet-related services, technology, AI
  • EV-related affiliations: Geely, NIO, WM Motors

Baidu (百度 bǎidù) is one of the world’s largest internet and technology companies. The company, headquartered in Beijing, offers a variety of services, including a search engine, which is the second largest in the world, mapping services, an online encyclopedia, cloud storage, and artificial intelligence.

Baidu has been at the forefront of the push toward autonomous driving. In 2017, Baidu launched the Apollo project (阿波龙 ābōlóng), a self-driving vehicle platform that offers “a complete open automatic driving ecosystem” for players in the automotive industry. In the same year, Baidu also launched a $1.5 billion fund dedicated to investing in as many as 100 autonomous driving projects. It has invested in EV makers such as NIO and WM Motors. In July 2018, Baidu commenced mass production of unmanned Apollo buses.

Timeline:

ByteDance

  • Revenues: $37 billion (2020)
  • Number of employees: 60,000 (2020)
  • Primary industry: Internet, social network, video sharing
  • EV-related affiliations: QCraft, Li Auto

ByteDance (字节跳动 zìjié tiàodòng) is an internet technology company known for its video-sharing platforms TikTok and Douyin, and Toutiao (“Headlines”), a popular news recommendation app.

In 2019, ByteDance was named as an investor in the EV maker Li Auto during the latter’s prospectus for a U.S. initial public offering. In March 2021, ByteDance announced an investment in local autonomous driving startup QCraft, the first sign of its foray into smart EVs. ByteDance is now preparing plans to list Douyin in New York or Hong Kong.

Timeline:

  • July 2, 2019 — ByteDance invests $30 million in the EV maker Li Auto.
  • March 5, 2021 — ByteDance announced that it is investing in local autonomous driving startup QCraft.
  • March 31, 2021 — ByteDance considers listing Douyin, its subsidiary and the Chinese counterpart of TikTok, in New York or Hong Kong.

Didi Chuxing

  • Revenue: 6.5 billion yuan / $1 billion (2020)
  • Number of employees: 11,407 (2019)
  • Primary industry: Ride hailing, delivery services
  • EV-related affiliations: BYD, BJEV, BAIC, Volvo, Ford, Renault, Geely

Didi Chuxing (滴滴出行 dīdī chūxíng) is China’s largest ride-hailing platform with services similar to Uber. Headquartered in Beijing, its platform provides services such as taxi hailing, ride sharing, and bike sharing.

Since late 2010, Didi has become active in the EV market collaborating with Chinese automakers such as BAIC and BYD, as well as foreign automakers Ford and Renault.

Didi has its own autonomous driving arm called Didi Autopilot, which works on the technology behind self-driving cabs. In April 2021, the ride-hailing giant began making its own EVs. In the same week, it also filed for an initial public offering that could raise as much as $100 billion.

Timeline:

DJI

  • Revenue: $2.83 billion (2018)
  • Number of employees: 14,000 (2018)
  • Primary industry: Drones and other uncrewed aerial vehicles, robotics, AI
  • EV-related affiliations: BYD, BJEV, BAIC

DJI, or Dajiang Innovations (大疆创新 dàjiāng chuàngxīn), is the world’s biggest consumer drone company, with 70% of global market share. Headquartered in Shenzhen, the 15-year-old company makes remote controlled quadcopters and commercial drones for aerial photography, agriculture, forestry, and security.

DJI announced in April 2021 that it would exhibit its intelligent driving systems at the Shanghai Auto Show. It simultaneously revealed DJI Automotive as a separate division within the company.

Timeline:

Huawei

  • Revenue: 888 billion yuan / $136.7 billion
  • Number of employees: 197,000 (2020)
  • Primary industry: Consumer electronics, telecommunications
  • EV-related affiliations: BAIC, Chang’an Automobile, Guangzhou Automobile

Founded in 1987 and headquartered in Shenzhen, Huawei (华为 huáwéi) is a world-leading provider of information and communications technology (ICT) infrastructure and smart devices. But after the U.S. blacklisted the firm and throttled its supply of semiconductors, Huawei has been looking for new growth areas.

Huawei has said it will not manufacture EVs, but it has invested $1 billion in EV software. Unlike its main competitor Xiaomi, Huawei will partner up with other automakers and provide the intelligent systems behind their EVs. The company has already announced partnerships with BAIC Group, Changan Automobile, and Guangzhou Automobile. Its first Huawei-powered self-driving vehicle, the Arcfox Polar Fox Alpha S, debuted with BAIC at the Shanghai Auto Show.

Timeline:

JD (Nasdaq: JD) (SEHK: 9618)

  • Revenues: $82 billion (2019)
  • Number of employees: 227,730 (2019)
  • Primary industry: Ecommerce, drones, robotics, AI
  • EV-related affiliations: Xpeng, NIO, Geely

JD.com (京东 jīngdōng) is China’s second-largest ecommerce company behind Alibaba. Headquartered in Beijing, the Fortune 500 company has ventured into high-tech robotics and AI delivery.

JD has the largest drone delivery infrastructure in the world, and has begun testing robotic delivery services and driverless delivery through autonomous trucks. JD has informal affiliations with NIO through its CEO, Liú Qiángdōng 刘强东, one of NIO’s early founders.

In 2018, JD established an EV service division known as JD Service Plus to utilize its delivery and logistics infrastructure to serve the EV market. In September 2020, JD signed a partnership with Xpeng, signing those services to the EV maker.

Timeline:

Meituan (SEHK: 3690)

  • Revenue: $13.7 billion (2019)
  • Number of employees: 46,662 (2018)
  • Primary industry: Internet, retail
  • EV-related affiliations: Li Auto

Meituan (美团 měituán) is an internet company that provides online retail services, including entertainment, dining, food and grocery delivery, and travel. Headquartered in Beijing, it was founded by Wáng Xìng 王兴 in 2010.

In June 2019, Wang Xing led an investment round of around $500 million in hybrid electric car maker Li Auto.

Timeline:

  • June 2019 — Meituan’s founder, Wang Xing, led an investment round (in Chinese) of up to $500 million in hybrid electric car maker Li Auto.

Tencent (SEHK: 700)

  • Revenues: $74 billion (2020)
  • Number of employees: 85,858 (2020)
  • Primary industry: Internet, social media, AI, video games
  • EV-related affiliations: Evergrande, NIO, WM Motors, Byton

Based in Shenzhen, Tencent (腾讯 téngxùn) is one of the world’s largest technology companies, involved in internet-related services, including entertainment (gaming and music), social media, artificial intelligence, banking, and payment systems.

In 2016, Tencent, together with electronics manufacturer Foxconn and luxury car dealer Harmony New Energy Auto, founded Future Mobility (now known as Byton), a pure all-electric vehicle startup.

Tencent has created its own AI self-driving program, a competitor to Baidu’s Apollo Project, recruiting numerous industry players. In addition to Byton, Tencent has backed a number of EV makers, including NIO and WM Motors. In 2020, it announced a partnership with Evergrande to develop smart vehicle operating systems.

Timeline:

  • 2016 — Tencent, together with electronics manufacturer Foxconn and luxury car dealer Harmony New Energy Auto, founded Future Mobility (now known as Byton), a pure all-electric vehicle startup.
  • March 2017 — Tesla announced Tencent had purchased a 5% stake in Tesla for $1.78 billion.
  • March 2020 — Tencent announces partnership with Evergrande to develop smart vehicle operating systems.