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电动汽车的竞技场上,中国公司挑战特斯拉

更新时间:2017-2-9 11:28:03 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

China’s Answer to Tesla Is Hopeful Entrant to Global Car Market
电动汽车的竞技场上,中国公司挑战特斯拉

BEIJING — On a windswept lot near Beijing’s main airport, Lu Qun talks up the electric sports car he hopes will transform him into China’s Elon Musk.

北京——在北京主要机场附近的一块狂风肆虐的地方,陆群对一款电动跑车赞不绝口,他希望自己可以凭借它成为中国的埃隆·马斯克(Elon Musk)。

“This is a real performance car,” the entrepreneur boasted of his sleek, gray-and-black Qiantu K50. “It’s fun. You can feel the quality. You’ll love driving this car.”

“这是一款真正的性能跑车,”这位企业家这样夸赞自己时髦的灰黑色前途K50跑车。“它很好玩。你能感受到它的品质。你会爱上驾驶它的感觉。”

For Mr. Lu, 48, the roadster is his best chance to make it big. After a lifetime of obscurity creating vehicles for other companies, the bespectacled engineer is betting that the rise of electric cars will propel his company — and his country — into the automotive spotlight.

对48岁的陆群来说,这款跑车是他把事业做大的最佳机会。这位戴眼镜的工程师前半辈子默默无闻地为其他公司设计汽车,现在他打赌,电动汽车的崛起将让他的公司以及这个国家成为汽车行业的焦点。

“Traditional auto manufacturers are constrained by their old models,” he said. “We can see things with fresh eyes.”

“传统汽车制造商受到旧模式的束缚,”他说,“而我们可以用新眼光看事物。”

Across China, government officials, corporate executives, private investors and newcomers like Mr. Lu are in a headlong rush to develop a domestic electric car industry. The country’s goal, like Mr. Lu’s, is to capitalize on the transition to electric to turbocharge the country’s lagging automobile sector to become a major competitor to the United States, Japan and Germany.

在中国各地,政府官员、公司主管、私人投资者以及陆群这样的新来者正在蜂拥开发国内电动汽车产业。该国的目标和陆群的一样,是想利用向电动汽车的转型振兴该国落后的汽车行业,成为美国、日本和德国的一个主要竞争对手。

That has been a goal of China’s industrial planners for decades, as the government has lavished resources on building homegrown automakers and discriminated against foreign players.

数十年来,这一直是中国工业规划者的目标,政府在建设国产汽车制造厂方面投入了大量资源,并对外国竞争者予以不平等待遇。

But so far, that effort has failed.

但到目前为止,这项努力没有成功。

Local manufacturers have lacked the brands, technology and managerial heft to outmaneuver their established rivals, either at home or abroad. Chinese consumers have preferred more reliable Buicks, Volkswagens and Toyotas to the often substandard offerings from domestic manufacturers, while little-known Chinese models have struggled to gain traction overseas.

国内汽车制造商缺乏打败成熟对手的品牌、技术和管理能力——不管是在国内还是在国外。中国消费者青睐更为可靠的别克、大众和丰田,而非通常表现不佳的国产汽车,与此同时,鲜为人知的中国汽车在国外也很难引起注意。

Electric vehicles could offer a second chance — one China’s policy makers do not intend to miss.

电动汽车可能提供了第二次机会——中国的政策制定者不想错失它。

They targeted electric cars for special support in an industrial policy called “Made in China 2025,” which aims to foster upgraded, technologically advanced manufacturing. By 2020, Beijing expects its automakers to be able to churn out two million electric and hybrid vehicles annually — six times the number produced in 2015.

在一项名为《中国制造2025》的产业政策中,电动汽车获得了特别支持,目标在于构建升级的、技术领先的制造体系。到2020年,北京预计它的汽车制造商每年能生产200万辆电动或混合动力汽车,是2015年产量的六倍。

This time, China’s carmakers may be better positioned. Since electric vehicles are a relatively new business for all players, Chinese manufacturers and international rivals are largely starting from the same point.

这一次,中国的汽车制造商可能处于更有利的位置。由于电动汽车对所有生产者来说都是相对较新的领域,所以中国汽车制造商和国际对手们总体来说是站在同一个起跑线上。

“There is a smaller gap between where China is today and the rest of the world” in electric cars, said Bill Russo, managing director at Gao Feng Advisory, a Shanghai consultancy, and a former Chrysler executive. “There is room for newer start-up companies to dream big in China.”

上海高风咨询公司董事总经理、前克莱斯勒首席执行官罗威(Bill Russo)表示,如今在电动汽车方面,“中国和其他国家的差距更小,较新的初创公司在中国拥有实现更大梦想的空间”。

Mr. Lu is one of those dreamers.

陆群就是其中一个追梦者。

Fascinated by cars since he was a boy, he studied automotive engineering at Beijing’s prestigious Tsinghua University. Upon graduating in 1990, he joined the research and development team at the China-based joint venture of Jeep, then a division of Chrysler.

他从小就痴迷汽车,曾在北京著名的清华大学学习汽车工程学。1990年,他毕业后加入了当时克莱斯勒旗下的Jeep合资企业,在其研发部任职。

During his time there, which included two years in Detroit, Mr. Lu came to feel such overseas operations had limited prospects in China — the ventures’ partners would try to balance their interests, and so were slow to develop strategies and make decisions.

在那里工作期间,包括在底特律的两年,陆群感到国外的运作方式在中国的前景有限——合资公司的合伙人会努力平衡利益,所以在开发策略和做决策时,行动缓慢。

So in 2003, he and nine colleagues started CH-Auto Technology Corporation as a specialty research and design shop for the local car industry. Since then, the firm has designed vehicles for some of China’s biggest automakers.

2003年,他和九名同事创立了长城华冠科技公司,它是一个为当地汽车行业服务的专业研究设计小组。从那以后,该公司为中国最大的一些汽车制造商设计了多款汽车。

Mr. Lu decided to start manufacturing his own vehicles because of the shift to electric. Since producing electric cars requires new parts and technologies, he believed a small entrant could better compete with these new vehicles than traditional automakers.

鉴于向电动汽车的转型,陆群决定开始生产自己的汽车。他认为,由于生产电动汽车需要新零件和新技术,所以在这方面,一个小型新公司可能比传统汽车制造商更具竞争力。

“Electric vehicles won’t just replace cars with conventional engines, but they will bring a huge change to the entire car industry,” Mr. Lu said. “We wanted to be part of this revolution.”

“电动汽车不只是会取代使用传统发动机的汽车,而且将给整个汽车行业带来巨大变化,”陆群说。“我们想成为这次变革的一部分。”

The result is the K50. Designed at his research center, the two-seater has a light, carbon fiber exterior and a console stuffed with touch screens. Rows of batteries propel the roadster to a top speed of about 120 miles per hour and carry it as far as 200 miles on a single charge.

他们的成果是K50。这款双座汽车是在他的研发中心设计的,外部框架采用超轻碳纤维,驾驶室里满是触摸屏。在多排电池的驱动下,这款跑车的最高时速可达120英里左右(约合200公里),单次充电续航里程可达200英里(约合320公里)。

No longer content to watch others produce his designs, Mr. Lu is currently constructing a $300 million factory in Suzhou, a city near Shanghai, to manufacture 50,000 cars a year. In all, he expects to invest as much as $1.4 billion into his venture over five years.

陆群不再满足于看着他人生产自己设计的汽车,他正在上海附近的苏州市投资3亿美元建厂,预计每年生产5万辆汽车。他期望在未来五年里为自己的企业总计注资14亿美元。

He did not specify what the car would sell for, but Mr. Lu intends to price the K50 at the top of the market when it goes on sale this year.

陆群没有给出K50未来的具体定价,但是这款车今年上市时,他打算按照市场高端价位定价。

That sets CH-Auto on a collision course with the industry’s flagship: Tesla.

这样,长城华冠就将与该行业的佼佼者特斯拉(Tesla)展开竞争。

Elon Musk’s company already has an edge. While Mr. Lu is building his business from scratch, Tesla has been established in China since 2013. CH-Auto will have to persuade wealthy customers to plunk down a large sum on an unfamiliar brand — Qiantu — over Mr. Musk’s recognizable models.

埃隆·马斯克的公司已经具有一定的优势。陆群正在从零开始创立自己的企业,而特斯拉2013年就登陆中国了。长城华冠将必须说服富有的顾客花费巨资购买一个不熟悉的品牌——前途——而非马斯克已经获得认可的车型。

Mr. Lu nevertheless remains confident. He argues the sporty K50 will appeal to a more leisure-oriented driver than Tesla’s cars. As a logo, the company has chosen the dragonfly, because its managers believe the speedy, nimble insect has similar attributes to his electric car. To market it, Mr. Lu is considering opening showrooms in major Chinese cities, backed by a platform to sell online.

不过陆群依然充满信心。他认为颇具运动性的K50将比特斯拉更能吸引以休闲为目的的驾驶者。该公司把蜻蜓作为车标,因为经理们认为,这种飞行速度快的灵巧昆虫与他的电动汽车具有类似的属性。为了进行推广,陆群正在考虑在中国的主要城市开设展厅,同时在网上设立销售平台。

Elon Musk “is someone I can learn from,” he said. “Tesla has huge symbolic significance because it is the first company to make people believe a business model solely around electric vehicles is possible.”

他说,“我可以向埃隆·马斯克学习。特斯拉具有强大的象征意义,因为它是第一个让人们相信,完全围绕电动汽车的商业模式是可行的公司。”

But, he added, “we are not looking to create the Chinese Tesla.”

不过他补充说,“我们不打算创造中国的特斯拉。”

When it comes to competing with Tesla, Mr. Lu can count on ample help from the Chinese government.

在与特斯拉竞争时,陆群可以依靠中国政府的大力支持。

To bring down costs and spur demand, the state has unleashed a torrent of cash. It has offered subsidies to manufacturers and tax breaks for buyers, and plowed investments into charging stations to make electric cars more practical.

为了降低成本,刺激需求,中国发行了大量现金。政府给制造商提供补贴,为购买者提供税收减免,大力投资兴建充电站,让电动汽车更实用。

In all, UBS Securities estimates that the government spent $13 billion promoting electric vehicles in 2015 alone. So far, Mr. Lu has financed the K50 through loans and injections of fresh capital, but says he “won’t refuse” government subsidies if they become available.

总体而言,瑞银证券(UBS Securities)估计,单在2015年,中国政府就投资130亿美元推广电动汽车。到目前为止,陆群主要通过贷款和新资本为K50融资,但他说,如果政府提供补贴,他“不会拒绝”。

Some analysts fear the state’s largess could prove as much bane as boon.

一些分析师担心国家的慷慨资助可能被证明是福祸参半。

China may be recreating the waste and excess in electric cars that has plagued other state-targeted sectors, like steel and renewable energy, without spurring the technological innovation the economy needs to compete. And even though China’s car market is the world’s biggest, it is still unlikely to absorb all of the electric vehicle projects underway today.

就像钢铁和可再生能源等其他被政府瞄准的行业所受的困扰一样,中国或许正在电动汽车行业再次制造浪费和过剩,而没有激发出其经济展开竞争时所需要的技术创新。尽管中国的汽车市场是世界上最大的,但它依然不大可能吸收目前正在进行的所有电动车项目。

“They are fueling overcapacity, with a lot of wasted money, and I’m doubtful that in the end you’ll have a successful electric car industry,” says Crystal Chang, a lecturer at the University of California, Berkeley who studies China’s auto industry policies.

“他们是在助长生产力过剩,浪费大量资金,我很担心,到最后中国的电动汽车行业依然不成功,”研究中国汽车行业政策的加州大学伯克利分校(University of California, Berkeley)讲师克莉斯特尔·常(Crystal Chang)说。

Significant sums have already been squandered. In September, the Finance Ministry fined five companies for defrauding the government of $150 million by fabricating sales of electric vehicles to obtain more subsidies, and several companies have failed to make an impression.

有大量资金已经被浪费了。去年9月,财政部对诈骗政府1.5亿美元的五家公司进行了处罚——它们伪造电动汽车销售额,以获得更多补贴——好几家公司没给人留下一点印象。

Mr. Lu is certain, however, that the K50 stands out in a crowded field. The car has already gotten some advance buzz; a review on one popular Chinese website praised its design as “beautiful” and “avant-garde” and its body as “very muscular.”

不过,陆群确信K50会在这个竞争激烈的领域脱颖而出。这款车已经提前引发了热烈讨论;中国一家热门网站上的评论称赞它设计“漂亮”、“前卫”,“车身线条肌肉感十足”。

“A big advantage they have is their knowledge of what it takes to build a quality vehicle,” said Jack Perkowski, managing partner of the Beijing-based consulting firm JFP Holdings and a veteran of China’s car sector. “They have a better chance than many others because of that.”

“他们的一大优势是,他们知道制造一辆高品质汽车需要什么,”位于北京的咨询公司杰克控股(JFP Holdings)的管理合伙人、中国汽车行业资深人士杰克·佩尔科夫斯基(Jack Perkowski)说。“因此,与其他很多企业相比,他们成功的机会更大。”

Mr. Lu is counting on it.

这正是陆群所期望的。

“There are a lot of electric vehicle companies and hot projects attracting a lot of money,” he said. “Not every company and not every car will be successful.”

“有很多电动汽车企业和热门项目正在吸引大量资金,”他说。“不是每个公司、每款车都会成功。”

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