Author: Chang Yan
The new car brand is cutting through its own ranks, and even its own people are not spared.
Just a week ago, we were hoping that the new model of a lower positioned brand would set a highest starting price of less than 300,000 for their new sedan model. But a week later, the new pure electric SUV from Zhiji, with a better position and a more traditional model compared to the former, set its price anchor at 300,000.
Appearance, interior, power, and configuration – the Zhiji LS7, among the new cars unveiled this year, is quite competitive, with more topics to discuss and less stubbornness, such as no air suspension as in previous models. With each electric car receiving increasing attention, the discussion about the LS7 is growing.
For the Zhiji brand, the LS7, as their second move, can almost determine the direction of the entire product lineup. Although the LS7 is a comprehensive offensive, it also urgently needs a polished signboard.
In response to this need, the joint CEO of Zhiji Automobiles gave an answer: directional coupons.
Two layers of silver-plated glass more than Model X
At the LS7 unveiling event, numerous former comparisons were made to models such as “Tesla Model X” and “Nio ES8”, allowing everyone to accurately match each configuration to their hypothetical rivals in the market.
“I want everything that others have, and I want to be better than others in what is not good,” seems to be one of the hidden messages of the LS7 unveiling event.
However, in an exclusive interview, Liu Tao’s description is much more direct and informative.
For example, as for the large-angle front windshield glass that is similar to the Model X and the first-generation Xiaopeng G3, there is quite a story behind it. At first, LS7 found the glass supplier for Model X, AGP from Peru. However, after the communication, it was found that AGP’s glass for Model X only had a single layer of silver plating, and in order to achieve the sun protection effect required by Zhiji, more complex treatment was needed. However, AGP could not meet the corresponding technical requirements.Afterwards, Zhiji, through SAIC’s efforts, found a domestic supplier who provides glass for high-speed trains and the C919. Through a more complex process, they finally completed a nine-layer treatment with three layers of silver plating and a protective film on both sides, ultimately producing the windshield on the LS7. In addition to coating, the process of making the glass also achieved a larger area and curvature by using a natural sink to increase the hot pressing mold.
Glass is only part of the LS7 story. Liu Tao stated that relying on SAIC, Zhiji has better high-end supply chain resources and unique negotiation capabilities. For example, when developing the Carlog camera system for vehicle regulations, supplier Shunyu also established a special project team with a focus on this area. This level of attention may be difficult for other new brands to achieve.
Full and Top Configuration
“Just because we have it, doesn’t mean it’s good. Having everything doesn’t mean having the best of everything.”
“A car that appears to be fully equipped may not necessarily be top-of-the-line.”
“I think for leading consumers, especially those in first-tier cities, it’s still better to buy the top configuration than the full configuration.”
“Zhiji’s brand positioning is luxury electric vehicles, so we must have the top configuration.”
These four sentences represent Liu Tao’s configuration philosophy.
For example, the air suspension and battery in the Zhiji LS7 have both selected more expensive solutions than those of industry competitors. This is because in Liu Tao’s understanding, “Hardware also has algorithmic sedimentation”, “Unlike mobile phones, the biggest barrier to automobiles is the complete customization and integration of all systems”. This explains why the LS7 chose to use air suspension springs from the mainland, which are twice as expensive as others on the market, as they are “based on the mainland’s understanding of rubber and pressure, which have many core patents.” Similarly, it explains why the LS7 uses CATL three-element lithium batteries throughout the entire range, because they have better performance.
“We cannot choose until we meet our standards,” and “The value orientation of the longboard is not far-reaching.”# Translation
In terms of products from competitors, Liu Tao cannot help but speak out.
“There are many brands who follow the trend and believe that high-end cars must be equipped with air suspension, but this can be considered as ‘not understanding’. The value of air suspension in cars is relatively small, and it will reduce the feeling of driving control instead.”
“The cost of trial and error in the automobile industry is very high; if safety issues arise, there will be no lives left, let alone talk about large refrigerators and large TVs.”
“L9 currently has a large market in China’s third- and fourth-tier cities, which are located in the vast northern region,” “The influence of L9 in third- and fourth-tier cities is indeed relatively high,” “but in first- and second-tier cities, more users will hope to have more and better choices.”
“Is having 4 Orin chips really that good? Today, solving user experience pain points with simple stacking of computing power is not feasible. Stacking computing power may make people who do not understand it feel powerful, but it consumes a lot of electricity.”
This is still the content I copied from my already softened shorthand script. Friends who are familiar with new energy products can naturally read the names of competitors from between the lines, but it also indirectly portrays the efforts of Smart-Tech.
Not only make yourself better, but also make Smart-Tech better
Undoubtedly, from the perspective of well-equipped cars, LS7 is definitely one of the best in the market.
The list of suppliers listed at the press conference has values that can be read behind them for people familiar with the automotive industry, whether it is economic or strength-wise, plus good appearance and reasonable prices, LS7 has the ability to break through.
With the support of SAIC Group’s dream and determination, Smart-Tech also has sufficient strength and motivation to continue its unrestrained ambition. In fact, in the second half of 2023, Smart-Tech “will launch a new medium to large-sized SUV that competes with the Model Y.” Smart-Tech’s product catalog has now reached up to five cars, “Other more compact models also have corresponding plans. The third and fourth cars mainly compete with the Model Y and Model 3; the fifth car is more of a way of thinking and problem-solving for the future.”#
It is obvious that from configuration to product, Zhiji is making a better version of itself.
However, from the perspective of the entire industry, what people are undoubtedly waiting for is a better version of Zhiji.
Looking at the current new energy market, the result of cost-effectiveness and technological innovation being squeezed to the limit is that more and more manufacturers are moving towards two different development paths of value orientation.
One part of them intends to seize as much market share as possible by achieving a price advantage through extreme cost reduction.
Another part intends to raise product quality and luxury attributes to increase prices, and obtain more stable user loyalty and more direct sources of profit.
As for Zhiji, it is currently taking risks by not only improving the configuration but also lowering the price. Although it is undoubtedly a good thing for consumers, its long-term effects need to be observed and evaluated.
Naturally, this strategy can only be supported by an absolute outbreak of sales to establish a positive cycle of cost-effectiveness – sales volume – cost reduction – new car development.
I think there is a sign for the beginning of this cycle.
That is the day when LS7 topped sales in the same price range.
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.