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EV strategy – Geely’s hybrid technology aims to be world-class

  • To excel in hybrid vehicle market through Leishen Hi-X strategy  
  • Strong capabilities in powertrain systems, autonomous driving, and battery swapping; target to achieve vehicle sales of 3.65m units by 2025 
  • Strong future product mix with more advanced smart vehicles in the pipeline 

Ambitious EV plans to 2025

Geely Auto Group recently announced its Smart Vehicle Strategy and laid down the key building blocks to guide the group towards electrification and sustainable mobility in the coming five years to 2025. 

We believe this will enable the group to catch up with its peers on accelerating the development of intelligent connected cars. 

Key developments over the five years are:

  1. To launch more than 25 new smart vehicle models under its various brands;
  2. Commercialisation of L4 technologies and to develop L5 autonomous driving capability; and
  3. Total development budget of Rmb150bn till 2025.

The launch of Leishen Power brand will position the group as a leading intelligent high-efficiency powertrain solutions provider, to develop leading technology smart hybrid powertrain platform (Leishen Hi-X), hybrid transmissions and engines, and a new generation E-Drive motor. All these will allow Geely to develop a diverse vehicle portfolio, covering EV, HEV, 200km long range PHEV and extended range models. 

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Leishen Hi-X is on the way to become a world-class modular intelligent hybrid powertrain platform. It aims to become the industry’s most adaptable and expandable powertrain in terms of space, levels of electrification, and power delivery. The platform can support various vehicle capacity from A-to-C segment and covering HEV/PHEV/REEV for brands within the Geely Auto Group. 

The next generation 1.5 TD hybrid engine (in various series) will have a high 43.32% thermal efficiency engine, advanced 3-speed Dedicated Hybrid Transmission (DHT), 40% reduced fuel consumption NEDC rating (3.6L/100km), and full powertrain FOTA (Firmware Over the Air) update capabilities. 

The first batch of models to utilise the Leishen Hi-X powertrain systems is expected to come onstream in 2022 and other models are expected to follow suit. 

To launch 25 new smart vehicle models under the various brands within the group. Geely Auto will release over 10 intelligent and electrified models, supported by Leishen Power hybrid powertrain solutions. The Geometry brand will have at least 5 new models to be rolled out from 2022, leveraging on the pure electric platforms and the SEA architecture. Lynk & Co will have over 5 new smart models (including an electric SUV for the Europe market in 2023).

In the pipeline is a new battery swapping mobility brand and 5 new smart battery swapping pure electric models in 2023 as well. Geely aims to deploy 5,000 battery swapping stations across 100 Chinese cities as well as to roll out more battery swap capable vehicles. 

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In sustainable development, the goal is to reduce total carbon emissions by 25% by 2025 and achieve carbon neutrality by 2045. 

The above are expected to help the group achieve total vehicle sales of 3.65m units by 2025 across all brands. Zeekr, the premium EV brand, will contribute 650,000 units. 

As of Oct-21, NEV sales accounted for approximately 7% of total. The latest smart vehicle strategy aims to help Geely reach 20% NEV penetration target before 2025, 

In summary, Leishen Power will offer users the most advanced, most efficient, electrified solutions. 

Why is Geely accelerating hybrid technology development?

The market potential for hybrid is huge, since PHEV has also been included in the government’s long-term development plans. For 9M21, PHEV volume sales in China rose c.140% y-o-y to almost 370,000 units. 

Given the overall NEV market is projected to post robust expansion from 2021-2035 (estimate sales CAGR of 15%), the long-term prospect of the PHEV segment is strong. 

Among the Chinese automakers, Geely is the latest to announce its medium-term NEV development strategy. Other Chinese OEMs such as BYD and Great Wall Motor have launched several models under their respective hybrid technology, while Geely Auto Group is targeting to have five models using the latest Leishen Hi-X hybrid powertrain. Market reception of Geely’s new products is yet to be seen. For instance, BYD started producing hybrid vehicles under the dual-mode platform for over 10 years. Under the latest DM-i technology, BYD posted 460% y-o-y increase in PHEV unit sales in 10M21. 

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Based on various companies’ announced data on fuel efficiency, thermal efficiency and travelling distance, Geely’s Hi-X scores are ahead of the other Chinese OEMs. For instance, fuel consumption efficiency is at 3.6L/100km and the engine capacity covers both the 1.5 and 2.0L segments, giving the company greater flexibility to incorporate the Hi-X powertrain technology in larger vehicle types as well. In addition, the hybrid engine series come in three speed options, giving consumers more choices. These hybrid parameters could place Geely’s future hybrid vehicles in a strong market position when launched. 

Challenging to meet 2021 sales target; but strong orders should support 2022 sales outlook

Geely’s 10M21 volume sales grew c.2% y-o-y and accounted for about 68% of its 2021 sales target of 1.53m units (estimated sales growth of 16% on year). Based on our estimates, the company is likely to achieve flat vehicle sales growth vs 2020, i.e. 1.32m units. 

While the company is likely to miss its 2021 sales target, we believe 2H21 margin pressure would be lower than 1H21 on better product mix, locking in raw material costs, as well as reducing rebates to distributors and dealerships to mitigate the cost pressure. New models such as Xingrui and Xingyue L (based on the CMA platform), ICON (BMA platform), and Brand New Emgrand should enhance its product mix. Given the tight vehicle supply, automakers are generally reducing their rebates to dealers. All these should partly help to mitigate the negative impact from supply chain disruption.

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We anticipate 2022 would be a better year for Geely on three fronts:

  1. Sales of Leishen Hi-X products. The group has planned several new models developed on the latest Leishen Hi-X platform, and there are two new models under the Geely brand. This should strengthen its market position, further enhance its product mix, and boost its profitability. 
  2. Due to the supply chain disruptions, Geely has a strong order backlog of about 150,000 vehicles on hand, which will be fulfilled in 1Q22. 
  3. Zeekr ramp-up. Given the company has a 58% stake in Zeekr, there are plans to broaden its product portfolio. The company would have to rapidly scale up to achieve 650,000 units sales by 2025. 

BUY for its solid long-term prospects

The latest Smart Geely initiatives should place the company in a competitive position to capture the rising vehicle electrification demand. The extensive vehicle electrification roadmap covering the key segments and eco-system is crucial for its long-term development. 

Maintain BUY rating on Geely for its long-term growth prospects. Geely’s management has been proactive in adapting an EV strategy that will be ahead of the curve. Our TP of HK$34 (unchanged) is pegged to 25x FY22F earnings, which should better reflect the improving operating environment compared to 2021.