Dear colleagues at GTAKE and guests from Weichai,
Good evening, everyone!
I would like to take this opportunity to share my thoughts on industry trends, GTAKE development principles, and market opportunities, the topics of great concern to all of us.
Industry Opportunities and Challenges
More than 20 years ago, when I joined Huawei Electric, the power electronics industry was a fringe industry, which mainly focused on providing power supplies for communication equipment. Another inconspicuous business, the industrial control VFDs was listed for sale at the Shenzhen High-Tech Fair, but failed to attract attention. It was an era of informatization. I suppose, at that time, Automobile Department and Electrical Engineering Department at Tsinghua University, as well as Electrical Engineering Department at Zhejiang University were probably not sought-after fields of study. How time flies! The explosive growth of the EV industry has made power electronics and motor control much more important than ever before, and many familiar faces have appeared on the billionaires list. Now is the opportunity that the times have endowed us, an unprecedented opportunity.
However, this is just the macro environment. When it comes to professionals in the field of motor control and power electronics, in the first eight years of the EV era, we have hardly seen any company making substantial profits. Instead, we faced fierce market competition. The cost of batteries is still too high! Attractive government subsidies for electric buses also triggered chaotic competition. Although passenger vehicles, driven by intelligent connectivity, have experienced significant growth and provided better customer experiences, motor control and power electronics suppliers have been engaged in cutthroat competition, forcing prices down to cost. Nowadays, many familiar peers and competitors have disappeared in the sea of crowds or are struggling to survive with continuous losses. In 2023, the market penetration rate of electric passenger vehicles soared to more than 30% with the assistance of intelligent connectivity, but in the past few years, logistics vehicles have developed slowly, and cost has always been an insurmountable hurdle. Only a few motor control and power electronics companies have been able to survive these eight years of cost inversion cycle and maintain good profitability.
Put Customers First for Sustainable Development
GTAKE has survived in this journey. What have we done right to stay afloat?
First of all, we entered the market segment at the right time, focusing on suitable niche segments. Additionally, we found cooperative partners that could mutually empower each other. These are the two key factors that have enabled us to survive.
In the past 2023, we have taken the lead in the Chinese market by achieving a market share of over 35% in the electric heavy-duty truck sector and more than 45% in the construction and engineering machinery sector. We have become the world’s top player in the high-speed electric motorcycle industry, shipping over 400,000 units of electric motorcycle controllers to all over the world.
In 2007, I attended a lecture by a management guru, Michael Porter, at Harvard Business School. He mentioned that the best competitive strategy is to avoid competition, and it is crucial for startup companies to identify suitable niche segments to survive.
Finding suitable partners that can engage in collaboration is another key to our success in recent years.
In the sector of heavy-duty trucks, we collaborate with leading system integrators with expertise in transmission products, leveraging complementary strengths for joint operations. In the electric motorcycle industry, we partner with collaborators who are familiar with the local market and have global perspectives. At the same time, We have accurately positioned the Southeast Asian market as our target market.
The ultimate goal of management is efficiency. No matter how good our IPD is, without improving R&D efficiency, it would be in vain. We should not prioritize form over substance. Instead, seeking truth from facts is part of our corporate culture. Simplifying complexity is the essence of management, rather than increasing unnecessary complexity. In 2023, GTAKE has improved its capital turnover efficiency by 30 days, attributing to the improvement in supply chain and financial management.
Someone says the invention of glass has propelled human civilization forward, and I strongly agree. With glass, we have invented microscopes and telescopes that allow us to see the world deeper, farther, and more clearly. From then on, within the human perspective, we have been able to witness electronic leaps and explore the vastness of the universe.
To achieve deep and thorough insights, it requires us to immerse ourselves in learning and gain a precise understanding of market demands in various niche segments. At the same time, we need to raise our heads and take a long-term view, recognizing industry trends and identifying the right time amidst changes.
We must have a broad horizon. China is a global leader in the EV sector and possesses tremendous technological potential. To penetrate into overseas markets, we must get used to enjoying tasty Vietnamese rice noodles and Thai Tom Yum soup, and have the curiosity to taste the delicious Indian curry. It is far from enough to focus solely on industrial control industry in overseas markets. We must sell our EV motor controllers and euipment system to Europe and America, as well as electric motorcycle controllers to Southeast Asia and the rest of the world.
Indeed, we still have much room for improvement. Our industrial VFD market has been growing slowly, and for now, it seems our future heavily depends on a few core customers in the electric vehicle sector. These factors require us to constantly think about how we can continue to grow steadily.
We emphasize once again that putting customers first is the most important driving force for our management advancement. To answer the question of who our customers are, it is not the channel partners that are our ultimate customers. Successful companies make industry-specific and application-based solutions as their breakthroughs. While unsuccessful companies simply focus on standardized products in the market and rely solely on channels to drive sales, which is doomed to be an incorrect strategy.
Customers in the EV industry are highly concentrated, which will lead to increasingly fierce competition. Therefore, we need to standardize customer management and establish seamless connections with our end customers in terms of technology, quality, service, and delivery. How to provide better service for our customers is our biggest challenge in the future.
Customers are our mentors and judges. Customer satisfaction is our goal, and therefore, we should prioritize customers in our organizational structure and place them at the center of our business processes.
Seize New Market Opportunities to Maintain Leading Position
Looking forward to 2024, we believe to see a continuous decline in battery costs. The cost of one kilowatt-hour for a heavy-duty truck was about CNY 900 in 2023 and there is a strong trend of further reduction. The cost can be recouped within 150,000 kilometers. Battery costs have already decreased by around 80% compared to five years ago. For logistics vans and engineering machinery, users are likely to choose highly cost-effective products. If battery costs continue to decrease, who will not choose electric trucks? Just like today’s Didi drivers, who will refuse to buy electric cars for their business? Electric passenger vehicles have grown from one million to nine million units in just four years. Currently, the market penetration rate for electric heavy-duty trucks is only 5%. We believe in the next three years, it is probably to reach a rate of over 20% or even 30%. This is our opportunity. At the same time, with the decrease in battery costs, end customers should be able to achieve more profits. We are not afraid of competition, because we believe the market will return to a benign business environment.
This year, let us concentrate on specific industries while closely following the future trends of industry development. Please do remember to put customer satisfaction on our priority. Let’s seize the unprecedented opportunity in the EV industry and improve our efficiency for continuous growth and sustainable development. Let’s work hard on the niche segments to maintain our leading position.
In the coming year, I wish all colleagues sound health and great success. May all flowers bloom for you, and may all golden opportunities reward your efforts! Thank you!
Yichen Fang, January 2024