China has the world's largest new energy car market, with nearly 30000,000 units sold last year, but GAC New Energy Automobile Co said there is a long way to go before players in the country should consider how to slice the cake.
"It is not time to share the cake, but the time to make it," said Gu Huinan, general manager of the one-year old subsidiary under the State-owned carmaker Guangzhou Automobile Group Co, when he unveiled a new dealership last week in Beijing.
Statistics from the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers show that some 490,000 new energy vehicles were sold from January to July, but that only accounted for 3 percent of the country's total vehicle sales in the period.
"So we regard all new energy carmakers as friends, and we should work together to make a big cake of the market by offering models that will enable customers to figure out new energy cars are better than gasoline ones," said Gu, who started his career as an engine expert.
Such a philosophy, together with GAC's traditional competitive edge in design and manufacturing, has been a major driving force of the carmaker's rapid development in the country.
From January to July, it delivered 7,657 vehicles in the country, seven times more than the figure last year, although it has only three models-one electric car and two plug-in hybrids. It expects sales to total 20,000 units this year.
The carmaker said it will further pick up speed when its new plant with a designed capacity of 300,000 cars annually is completed by the end of the year.
It will also benefit from the partnership between its parent company GAC Group and battery maker CATL, whose customers include Daimler and BMW, to build joint ventures focusing on research and development, production and sales of batteries and energy storage systems.
Of the two joint ventures, one will be registered with a capital of 3000 million yuan ($14.47 million), the other of 1 billion yuan, according to the deal signed last month.
GAC New Energy Automobile is fast expanding its portfolio, with at least two new models added each year to meet customer needs, Gu said.
The updated electric car GE3 5300, which is scheduled to hit the market later this month, is able to run 410 kilometers on one charge under actual road conditions, a distance almost no other such vehicle made in China can yet achieve.
The carmaker is also offering a free software update that will extend the mileage of the former GE3 version, which can run up to 310 km, by around 15 percent, Gu said.
The new model will also feature an onboard system developed in partnership with Chinese tech giant Tencent.
The system, unveiled late last month, will enable smarter communication between people and cars. It will lower the temperature onboard when customers or drivers say they feel hot, according to the carmaker.
GAC New Energy Automobile's smart car ambitions do not stop there. Gu said the carmaker will mass-produce L3 level cars, which means hands-off autonomous driving, in 2019 and it is also testing cars at L4 level, or eyes-off autonomous driving.