What will be the first product of the Voyah brand, with both pure electric and range-extended electric power systems?
Since the launch of the Voyah brand on its strategic release conference on July 29, I have been frequently asked about this question. iFree, the mass-produced concept car of Voyah, was recently unveiled at the Beijing Auto Show, and the first white-body car rolled off the assembly line in early November, gradually revealing the mystery of Voyah.
What we can confirm is that the first model of Voyah is a mid-to-large-sized SUV, which will provide both pure electric and range-extended power modes. The range-extended electric SUV, equipped with a 1.5T four-cylinder engine, caused widespread discussion after the controversial Ideal ONE.
Why do consumers need a range-extended electric vehicle? How will the mass-produced car of Voyah be? Where is the opportunity for the Voyah brand to break through?
On November 17, on the occasion of the 100th day of the establishment of the brand, I visited the Voyah Technology Open Day and attempted to answer the above three questions starting from the core technology of “range-extension.”
The first keyword on the market for Voyah’s first electric SUV must be “range-extended electric.”
Basically, it is a power system that generates electricity by burning fuel with an engine and then drives the vehicle with a motor. Before Voyah, Ideal ONE, a product that raised the “range-extension technology” flag high, was once critically panned. It was not only publicly criticized by many car reviewers, but also deemed as “a very bad and outdated technology” by Feng Sihan, CEO of Volkswagen China.
However, it is this controversial technology that helped Ideal ONE win the crown of the best-selling domestic new energy SUV for several consecutive months. Consumers are voting with their feet.
Why is that?
The answer is simple. The range-extension technology reflects the “user thinking” of the company.
From a technical standpoint, compared to pure electric vehicles, range-extended electric vehicles have an extra engine and 20-30 degrees more batteries than plug-in hybrids. The structure is more complex, and the vehicle is heavier, seemingly against the trend. But do consumers care about the technology itself? Of course not. What consumers care about is whether the technology brings a good experience or not. It’s like many people don’t like three-cylinder engines not because they don’t like the technology, but because of the shaking it brings. And many people like longitudinal rear-wheel drive, not because they like the technology itself, but because they can feel the driving force directly and have good control.
From a user’s perspective, the logic of choosing a range-extended electric vehicle product is simple:# Why not buy a pure electric vehicle?
The main reason is that extended range eliminates range anxiety. Even though I may never drive to Tibet in my life, I want a car that has zero range anxiety, allowing me to be more spontaneous and free.
Why not buy a gasoline vehicle?
Extended range vehicles offer a driving experience that is closer to that of a pure electric vehicle, with quick acceleration and relatively quiet operation. If you want to get a gasoline vehicle with a similar driving experience, you would have to increase your budget by at least double. If you have a charging station at home, the operating cost would also be comparable to that of a pure electric vehicle. In addition, extended range vehicles, as new energy vehicles, are eligible for a free green license plate and enjoy the same road rights as pure electric vehicles in cities such as Shanghai, where certain vehicles are restricted by license plate numbers.
Voyah has thought this through.
For pure electric vehicles, especially when the energy replenishment system is not yet fully established, extended range vehicles better meet the needs of most users. Another key point is that Voyah’s first extended range vehicle uses a 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine for the range extender, which theoretically provides better power and noise reduction than the 1.2-liter three-cylinder engine used in the Ideal ONE, on paper at least.
It is worth noting that based on ESSA’s native intelligent electric architecture, Voyah offers not only extended range electric mode but also pure electric options.
This is very interesting. Considering the trend of pure electric vehicle development, and the fact that there is indeed a relatively high acceptance rate for pure electric vehicles, convenient charging conditions, and the possibility of being the second family car, some users are more inclined to buy a pure electric vehicle. So, Voyah is offering this option for these users.
What are Voyah’s advantages?
After discussing the driving mode, let’s take a holistic look at Voyah’s product. It can be summarized in two key words:
“Breaking tradition while continuing tradition.”
Breaking tradition means breaking away from the inertia of traditional automakers. This is very important because, although many traditional automakers are now creating new brands or high-end electric vehicle brands, many of them face a common problem. Whether it’s product design, definition, marketing, or even brand building, you can tell at a glance that they are made by traditional automakers.
So, how does Voyah do it?## Product Design
Although the design of the production version of LanTu’s first electric SUV has not been revealed yet, the design language of LanTu is still distinctive, as we can see from the iFREE production concept car displayed at the previous Beijing Auto Show and the i-Land concept car launched on the brand day. For example, the front face of “Plumage of Wind” adopts a large amount of aerodynamic design and the side body lines with many folds, making it avant-garde and exaggerated yet not tacky. This is crucial in attracting consumers at first sight.
According to the latest information I obtained from the official website in regards to the LanTu’s first mass-produced SUV based on ESSA, it has a high-performance central computing platform with SOA software architecture. It supports 5G and the entire vehicle OTA, and comes with advanced assisted driving functions. This is also very important for consumers who increasingly care about the intelligentization of products.
The shaping of a brand is equally important for a new brand as the product itself. For example, the reason why Nio has high brand recognition among consumers today is closely related to the shaping of its brand before the launch of its products. Currently, LanTu is positioned as a zero-worries high-end intelligent electric vehicle brand which advocates the concept of “simplicity, tranquility, and elegance” — not noisy, not pretentious, not impetuous; but with vision, temperament and taste. It is in line with its target user group of “A New Force in the Middle of China” and reflects the warmth beyond products.
In comparison to new car manufacturers, traditional car companies find it more difficult to create a new brand because they are bound by their original organizational structures and ways of doing things. It is tough to move forward quickly because of the heavy weight and low efficiency. However, LanTu has established an independent company named LanTu Auto Technology, which is not a subsidiary of any Dongfeng Group company, in order to optimize its organizational structure. It adopts the OKR target management system widely used by technology companies and advocates for flat and efficient management. One detail that reflects the team’s determination for change is that it only took 100 days from the brand strategy announcement on July 29th to the rollout of the first white car body on November 6th, which is the fastest industry record.
In addition to breaking away from tradition, LanTu’s advantage is also to continue the tradition.I have written an article before, saying that the Voyah SUV is starting from 1. The reason is simple. As a business card of Wuhan’s automobile industry, Dongfeng Motor, which has a history of 50 years, has provided Voyah with strategic reserves in supply chain, technology, and funding, etc., which can help Voyah to avoid many detours.
Some traditions must be continued, especially those related to vehicle safety.
For example, as mentioned earlier, the white body of Voyah’s first mass-produced SUV, the A-pillar uses TRB+Patch composite structure thermoforming technology, and the B-pillar uses TRB aluminum-silicon coating thermoforming material. The car’s anti-collision beam for the door also uses the first 2000MPa aluminum-silicon coating material. According to official data, high-strength steel accounts for 75% of the white body, and the proportion of hot-formed steel above 1500MPa accounts for 31%. Compared with many luxury brands with higher hot forming proportions, such as Audi e-tron (27%) and BMW X7 (16%), the static torsional stiffness has also reached 39.3Nm/deg, ensuring the safety and stability of the whole vehicle.
In addition, the suspension of Voyah’s first mass-produced SUV uses a front optimized double-wishbone + rear four-link configuration. For electric vehicles, the load on the suspension is different from that of gasoline vehicles. It not only needs to take into account the comfort of the vehicle, but also needs to consider the vehicle’s driving ability, which requires relatively higher standards. Although the actual product has not been experienced yet, according to official sources, this suspension configuration has undergone detailed CDC soft and hard adjustments, and has excellent anti-roll performance and driving comfort.
Finally, regarding validation, before the first mass-produced SUV of Voyah is officially delivered in 2021, it will complete over 3 million kilometers of tests, including high-temperature testing, plateau testing, extreme cold testing, power special testing, strengthening special testing, comprehensive durability, etc., to ensure quality and reliability.
In my opinion, Voyah’s advantage lies in going beyond tradition and maximizing its continuation. Based on Dongfeng’s own credit endorsement, the market acceptance time of Voyah as a new brand will be greatly shortened.
What is the market outlook?
In the eyes of many people, Voyah’s first car model and IDEAL ONE are direct competitors, after all, both are mid-to-large-sized SUVs and have chosen the extended-range power route.
At first glance, this is indeed the case, but if you look further:On the one hand, the development trend of new energy vehicles has been determined. In the next 5-10 years, with the decline of battery cost and the continuous improvement of intelligence level, the new energy market will experience explosive growth. As for the Chinese market, the vision presented in the just released “Development Plan for the New Energy Vehicle Industry (2021-2035)” shows that by 2025, the sales of new energy vehicles will account for around 20% of the total sales of new vehicles.
On the other hand, the number of high-quality products available in the market is still very limited. Although a batch of truly competitive new energy products that can even compete with traditional fuel vehicles, such as the Tesla Model 3, NIO ES6, and the Ideal ONE, were born in 2020 compared to the past two years. However, when it comes to each product area, the choices available to consumers are still very few.
This is an obvious incremental market, where cooperation is more important than competition. Voyah has entered the market at the right time, neither too early nor too late. The more seed players, the easier it is to make the cake bigger.
This article is a translation by ChatGPT of a Chinese report from 42HOW. If you have any questions about it, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.