Geely’s commercial vehicle unit Farizon Auto launched a new energy semi-truck in Shanghai on November 8. The company aims to produce and roll out the car in 2024.
SHANGHAI (Reuters) – China’s Geely launched a new electric semi-truck on Monday as automakers look to bring new technology to the commercial vehicle market.
Division CEO Mike Van told CNBC in an interview Monday that Geely’s commercial vehicle group, Farizon Auto, plans to introduce the new Homtruck in 2024 and is targeting international markets as well.
“This product is designed and developed to meet the global market,” Fan said, according to a CNBC translation, adding that the company will target Europe, Korea, Japan and North America with the new vehicle.
Geely’s Homtruck launch comes as a number of automakers from Mercedes owner Daimler to Warren Buffett-backed BYD have announced their own electric trucks. Tesla, which announced its own truck called the Semi in 2017, has delayed production of that vehicle for some time.
Homtruck will have different power options including hybrid methanol and pure electricity. Methanol-powered batteries are a technology that Geely has been investing in for several years and some of its models currently have this power option. Farizon said Homtruck’s batteries can also be replaced, reducing the need for charging.
The company said the interior includes a shower, toilet, single bed, refrigerator, kitchen area and mini washing machine.
Fully driverless by 2030?
Homtruck was built with self-driving in mind.
Geely said the car will be able to use some of the partially self-driving features. And for long trips, the trucks will be able to communicate with each other to maintain speed and a safe distance.
Fan said Geely plans to introduce autonomous driving in three phases. By 2023, the company hopes to have some partial driverless features with more advanced systems in 2026. Geely plans to achieve full autonomy in 2030.
“I’m sure the regulations and standards for self-driving are in the process of being formed,” Fan said.
“Based on the market demand and development demand of our company, [Geely] As a company, certain technologies must be developed and improved early on. So when the regulations and terms are ready, we can apply our technology to the market in time.”
Rising raw material prices and chips shortage
Automakers are also dealing with rising raw material prices and a global shortage of semiconductors.
Automakers are watching the price of lithium, which has jumped to record highs this year.
An Oct. 29 report from Benchmark Mineral Intelligence said battery makers are beginning to pass on these price increases to car companies “which could have a significant impact on electric vehicles coming to market between 2022 and 2024.”
Van Geely said higher raw material prices are affecting the company’s production volume and margin as the automaker faces “rising price pressure”.
He described the rise in raw material prices as a “matter of a period” that will gradually resolve.
Fan also said that a global shortage of chips is limiting the company’s production scale. But he also said that supply issues are “gradually being resolved” and that companies are working on “alternative solutions” for the chips.
“So these two parts are going to play together in order to alleviate the chip shortage,” Fan said.