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Exclusive-Apple’s talks with Chinese battery makers CATL and BYD mostly stalled -sources

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October 22, 2021

SHANGHAI/HONG KONG (Reuters) – Apple Inc’s talks with China’s CATL and BYD over battery supplies for its planned electric vehicle have been mostly stalled after they refused to set up teams and build U.S. plants that would solely cater to the tech giant, three people with knowledge of the discussions said.

The firms informed Apple sometime in the past two months that they were not able to meet its requirements, the people said. But the U.S. company has not given up hope of resuming talks with either CATL or BYD, according to one source.

Chinese battery makers are more advanced than rivals in the development of lithium iron phosphate (LFP) batteries which are cheaper to produce and sources have previously said Apple favours this battery technology.

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CATL, the world’s No.1 maker of batteries for EVs, has been reluctant to build a U.S. factory due to political tensions between Washington and Beijing as well as cost concerns, said one of the people with direct knowledge of the talks.

The Chinese firm has also found it impossible to set up a separate product development team exclusively working with Apple due to difficulties in finding sufficient personnel, the person added.

BYD, which has an iron-phosphate battery plant in Lancaster, California, declined to build a new factory and team that would solely focus on supplying Apple, said two of the sources.

The stalled discussions have meant that Apple has been considering Japanese battery makers and it sent a group of people to Japan this month, they added.

Panasonic Corp is one of the companies that Apple is considering, said one of the people.

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The sources declined to be identified as the talks were confidential. Apple, BYD and Panasonic declined to comment.

CATL said in a statement to Reuters that it denied “the relevant information”.

“We are evaluating the opportunity and possibility of manufacture localization in North America,” the statement said, adding that it has a dedicated professional team exclusively for each customer.

Sources told Reuters last year Apple was aiming to launch an electric car by 2024 https://www.reuters.com/article/us-apple-autos-exclusive/exclusive-apple-targets-car-production-by-2024-and-eyes-next-level-battery-technology-sources-idUSKBN28V2PY. Apple has not publicly disclosed its plans.

The stall in discussions comes at a time when U.S. President Joe Biden is seeking to make the United States a powerhouse in electric cars, setting a goal https://www.reuters.com/business/autos-transportation/biden-set-target-50-evs-by-2030-industry-backs-goal-2021-08-05 of having half of all new vehicles sold in 2030 electric.

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Any delays in securing battery supplies could further impede EV development for Apple which last month lost the head of its car project, Doug Field, after he decided to return to Ford Motor Co.

Tesla Inc, which has been making some of its Model 3 and Model Y cars in China with LFP batteries from CATL, said this week it intended to use that battery chemistry outside China as well.

CATL and BYD use a type of battery pack technology to improve the performance of LFP batteries. Without that, LFP batteries usually offer much shorter driving ranges and lower energy density than the more expensive lithium batteries that use cobalt and nickel.

(Reporting by Zhang Yan in Shanghai and Julie Zhu in Hong Kong; Additional reporting by Stephen Nellis in San Francisco and Tim Kelly in Tokyo; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)

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Tesla sold 52,859 China-made vehicles in November – CPCA

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December 8, 2021

BEIJING (Reuters) – U.S. electric vehicle maker Tesla Inc sold 52,859 China-made vehicles in November, including 21,127 for export, the China Passenger Car Association (CPCA) said on Wednesday.

Tesla, which is making Model 3 sedans and Model Y sport-utility vehicles in Shanghai, sold 54,391 China-made vehicles in October, including 40,666 that were exported.

Chinese EV makers Nio Inc 10,878 cars last month, a monthly record high, and Xpeng Inc delivered 15,613 vehicles. Volkswagen AG said it sold over 14,000 ID. series EVs in China in November.

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CPCA said passenger car sales in November in China totalled 1.85 million, down 12.5% from a year earlier.

(Reporting by Sophie Yu, Brenda Goh; editing by Jason Neely)

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Renault Zoe goes from hero to zero in European safety agency rating

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December 8, 2021

By Nick Carey

LONDON (Reuters) – French carmaker Renault on Wednesday received a blow for its popular Zoe electric model, as the European New Car Assessment Programme (NCAP) gave it a zero-star safety rating in tests that are standards for Europe.

The carmaker, which is cutting costs and working to turn around its performance after overstretching itself over years of ambitious global expansion, also received a one-star rating for its electric Dacia Spring model.

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Euro NCAP said the latest Zoe had a worse seat-mounted side airbag than earlier versions. Euro NCAP noted the Renault Laguna had been the first car ever to receive a five-star rating in 2001.

“Renault was once synonymous with safety,” Euro NCAP secretary general Michiel van Ratingen said in a statement. “But these disappointing results for the ZOE and the Dacia Spring show that safety has now become collateral damage in the group’s transition to electric cars.”

In the year through October, the Zoe was the third top-selling fully-electric car in Europe, behind Tesla’s Model 3 in top place and Volkswagen’s ID.3.

In a press release titled “Hero to Zero,” UK insurance group Thatcham Research noted the Zoe had initially received a five-star rating back in 2013.

“It’s a shame to see Renault threaten a safety pedigree built from the inception of the rating,” said Matthew Avery, Thatcham’s chief research strategy officer and a Euro NCAP board member.

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Eleven cars received ratings in Euro NCAP’s final round of tests for 2021, which did not include Tesla models.

A number of other vehicles received five-star ratings, including BMW’s electric iX, Daimler’s electric Mercedes-Benz EQS, Nissan’s Qashqai and Volkswagen’s VW Caddy.

(Reporting By Nick Carey; Editing by Bernadette Baum)

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Weibo shares close down 7.2% in Hong Kong debut

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December 8, 2021

By Scott Murdoch

HONG KONG (Reuters) -Chinese social media giant Weibo Corp’s shares closed 7.2% below their issue price in Hong Kong on Wednesday, as it became the latest U.S.-listed China stock to seek out a secondary listing closer to home.

The Hong Kong debut was in line with a fall in Weibo’s primary listing in New York after a torrid week for U.S.-listed China shares, which are facing greater U.S. regulatory scrutiny and also under pressure from Chinese authorities.

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Weibo, which raised $385 million for its Hong Kong listing, opened at $256.20 and closed at HK$253.2 after a volatile debut session.

The stock had been priced at HK$272.80 each in its secondary listing in which 11 million shares were sold.

“For Weibo, it’s a matter of timing. The Hong Kong market had started to rebound this week and now we are seeing some softness emerging in the market,” said Louis Tse, Wealthy Securities director in Hong Kong.

Weibo’s fall came as Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index closed Wednesday up 0.06% while the Tech Index was 0.03% higher.

Some major stocks such as Alibaba Group Holdings, down 4.35%, were off sharply as sentiment towards tech majors remains fragile.

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“The listing market in Hong Kong is very lukewarm right now,” said Dickie Wong, Kingston Securities executive director.

“Plus, there is regulatory pressure from the (U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission) on Chinese companies to disclose basically everything within three years.

“So there is a major trend that most of the U.S.-listed Chinese companies will seek secondary or dual primary in Hong Kong so they can exit the U.S. market if they need to.”

Ride-hailing giant Didi Global decided last week to delist from New York https://www.reuters.com/technology/didi-global-start-work-delisting-new-york-pursue-ipo-hong-kong-2021-12-03, succumbing to pressure from Chinese regulators concerned about data security and denting sentiment toward Chinese stocks.

Hong Kong and China’s mainland STAR Market have attracted $15.2 billion worth of secondary listings from U.S. listed Chinese companies so far this year, according to Refinitiv data.

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“The moves are probably based on the increasing recognition that the U.S.-China decoupling will not stop and will proceed steadily,” said LightStream Research analyst Mio Kato, who publishes on Smartkarma.

“I would expect a continuous flow of listings from New York to Hong Kong over the next year or two.”

The U.S administration is progressing plans to delist Chinese companies if they do not meet the country’s auditing rules, which could affect more than 200 companies.

Chinese companies https://www.reuters.com/business/us-sec-mandates-foreign-companies-spell-out-ownership-structure-disclose-2021-12-02 that list on U.S. stock exchanges must disclose whether they are owned or controlled by a government entity, and provide evidence of their auditing inspections, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) said last week.

(Reporting by Scott Murdoch and Donny Kwok; editing by Richard Pullin and Louise Heavens)

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