A WM passenger car introduced last year, the M7, shows off the company's Rota dial. The simple operation of 'press, pull, and rotate' can realize many functions such as song switching and temperature adjustment. Photo: WM

Chinese electric vehicle (EV) maker WM Motors on August 22 announced it has reached an in-depth strategic cooperation agreement with Giga Carbon Neutrality (GCN), a global leader in new energy vehicle equipment and services.

According to the announcement, the two companies agreed to restructure WM Motor’s overseas unit WM New Energy Commercial Vehicle Group to include a new business segment to compete with American EV maker Rivian and Tesla’s Cybertruck.

As part of the agreement, WM will fully integrate GCN’s intelligent commercial vehicle ecosystem of equipment and services. Headquartered in Shanghai, WM Motors is privately held.

Company officials say that, as a Chinese auto industry pioneer, WM already enjoys competitive advantages in safety features, autonomous driving technology, internet connectivity and production capacity. The company’s “smart parking” system integrates vehicle smart technologies with environmental sensors and mobile platforms to provide a closed-loop parking system.

In 2022, WM’s EX5 model was given the EU’s WVTA high-volume certificate, and the company received the bloc’s SSTA low-volume certification for its E5 model. That same year, WM signed orders for more than 10,000 units of overseas sales. WM Motor’s safety test performance ranks high among new energy vehicles, company officials say.

The impact of the pandemic on raw material prices, as well as a chip supply crisis aggravated by geopolitics, weighed on the global auto industry at the beginning of 2023. These headwinds drove WM into a loss last year, but the company says it expects a return to profitability as the new energy commercial vehicle market expands.

GCN provides an ecosystem of services for commercial new energy vehicles such as heavy trucks, aiming to become a global leader in new energy mining trucks and construction machinery, as well as heavy and light truck equipment. The company provides a proprietary “AI internet of things” (AIoT) OpenV2X (vehicle-connected everything) technology.

GCN claims bragging rights for being the first new energy commercial vehicle equipment and service company to offer a smart IoT-level operating system, equipped to become the total solution provider of equipment, operating system, energy data and carbon credit services.

(Chinese-American entrepreneur Bruno Wu, who is also a shareholder of Asia Times’s holding company, is GCN’s founder).

Already established as one of China’s leading new automakers, WM boasts substantial R&D capabilities, proprietary technology and intellectual property, strong production capacity and an established customer base. As WM works to meet production and distribution challenges, its officials say, synergy with GCN’s management and technical team is well-timed to help WM to overcome current obstacles.

According to the company, WM Commercial will build a light commercial vehicle ecosystem that integrates supply chain, energy data and carbon credits services with intelligent lightweight logistics vehicles.

WM aims to become a global leading enterprise both in vehicle orders and long-term service revenue on the strength of its digital skateboard chassis technology as well as driverless and intelligent technology applications. Logistics vehicles and light commercial pickup truck sales will target China and overseas markets.

WM Commercial stresses that it will focus on the technical advantages and development achievements of both companies, quickly integrating GCN’s equipment and services into industrial applications. Plans are underway to launch commercial transport vehicles and two pickup truck products, respectively, between 2023 to 2025.

The company hopes these vehicle designs will establish market leadership  in the lightweight and intelligent design that helped WM’s original passenger car business in developing domestic and overseas markets, including government official vehicles and ride-hailing vehicle sales.

GCN will also help WM Motor transform its business with the provision of services. WM Commercial aims to secure a long-term share of the global retail commodity supply chain and energy service markets, transforming the original product sales model into a product-plus-service model, and become a new energy commercial vehicle operator that can provide integrated solution capabilities.

With a base of 100,000 commercial vehicles, the company says it expects annual supply chain service revenue to exceed 100 billion yuan, providing a revenue stream to reduce reliance on vehicle sales alone for profit.

WM Commercial has reported orders for 200,000 logistics vehicles and distribution vehicles injected from GCN, which it claims places it atop world rankings. It has also received orders for tens of thousands of official cars and ride-hailing vehicles in the coming year. WM Motor will build a virtual factory production management center for WM Commercial on the smart production platform in China.

A spokesman for WM Motor said: “Through this cooperation with GCN to build the ‘New WM’, WM Motor will accelerate efforts to overcome the unfavorable situation of heavy assets and long-term losses from the passenger-car era, rapidly improve its balance sheet and cash flow and explore a path of integration and transformation and development for new energy passenger vehicles.”

WM Commercial boasts that its products rival those of competitors Rivian and Tesla’s Cybertruck, which have previously reached a maximum market valuation of US$1.4 trillion US dollars, and are currently valued at $195.20 billion. The company says it stacks up not only in terms of the technical characteristics of its vehicles, but also in terms of mass production and delivery capabilities.

The delivery of 200,000 logistics and distribution vehicles injected by GCN to start delivery immediately looks to put the company well ahead of the competition. At the same time, it says it also has orders for tens of thousands of ride-hailing and official cars next year.

It is also actively looking for investors and production partners for the pick-up truck market in the Middle East and EU, with plans to adopt a technology licensing and management output, asset-light and high-return expansion model. A spokesman for WM Motor further said that it expects the integration of the company with GCN to be completed soon.