Chassis maker offers shortcut to EV production

By LI FUSHENG | China Daily
Updated: March 25, 2024
U Power Tech showcases its chassis at the 2024 CES tech show in Las Vegas in January. [Photo/CHINA DAILY]

Paul Li, founder and CEO of U Power Tech, believes that the utmost respect any company can have for their customers is to offer them the best products at the lowest possible price.

The belief is one of the reasons behind Li's confidence in the 3-year-old skateboard chassis maker's business logic and prospects.

Its product can be seen as a plug-and-play platform, which allows carmakers, especially newcomers, to focus on the upper bodies, from sedans, pickups, SUVs and vans.

In the traditional way, it costs carmakers around 2-3 billion yuan ($277-416 million) to develop a passenger vehicle and the expenditure stands from 500 million to 1 billion yuan for a commercial one.

"Our product can cut the development cost by two-thirds, as we have seen in our clients' commercial vehicle projects," said Li.

But Li insists that the financial benefits, though considerable, come after time that can be saved, because it can decide the fate of a model or even a company.

"Time will not appear in your financial statements but usually what is not shown is the priciest thing. It is the opportunity cost," said Li, adding its skateboard chassis can cut the go-to-market time by at least six months.

Some companies have bought Li's philosophy and products. In January, U Power Tech started deliveries of its product, called the UP Super Board, to Olympian Motors, an EV startup headquartered in New York.

The carmaker is planning to deliver the first vehicles to customers in New York, California and Florida in 2024.It expects shipments to rise to 100,000 units by 2027.

"By seamlessly integrating the UP Super Board with Olympian's modular EV architecture, we anticipate game-changing time and capital savings in our manufacturing process," said Olympian Motors CEO Eren Alan Canarslan at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January.

U Power Tech is seeing a fast-growing number of orders for its own model based on the UP Super Board, called the UP VAN, the company's first all-electric van for urban logistics.

Since the model was announced in 2023, U Power Tech has received more than 140,000 orders from clients from North America, Japan, Southeast Asia, Europe and China.

Deliveries of the model are scheduled to begin in the second half of 2024, which may prove to open a new chapter in the company's development.

"When people hear what you say, they may agree or not. But when they see your product, it may prompt them to act," said Li.

But that is just the start. Li estimated that by 2030, half of the world's new vehicles will be electrified ones, which would stand at around 40 to 50 million units.

"At least one-third of them will feature chassis from third-party suppliers, be they skateboard ones or not. Only giants like BYD or Tesla will make their own cars independently," said Li.

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