Aiways Shifts Sales Focus to Europe to Escape Chinese Price War

The Chinese automaker plans a Nasdaq listing via a merger with a SPAC by year’s end.

Greg Kable

May 15, 2024

2 Min Read
‘Ai’ in Aiways means ‘Love’ in Chinese.
‘Ai’ in Aiways means ‘Love’ in Chinese.

Chinese automaker Aiways is preparing to formally exit its home market amid an ever-deepening electric-vehicle price war, with plans to significantly expand its European sales base and launch a new, entry-level crossover model tailored to European tastes.

Sources tell WardsAuto the major change in the EV start-up’s global strategy comes as it prepares to go public with a listing on the Nasdaq exchange in New York via a merger with a yet-to-be-identified special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) by the end of 2024.

“The center of Aiways’ global sales operations will switch to Europe and, more specifically, Germany following the listing. There are no plans to remain in the Chinese market due to the intense pricing pressure and competition there,” the high-level sources reveal. 

The management structure of Aiways is expected to remain unchanged following the listing, with incumbent CEO Hugo Zhu driving the company’s development and increasing focus on its overseas business. He will be supported by Alexander Klose, vice president of Aiways Overseas Operations and managing director of Aiways Automobile Europe.

The Nasdaq listing is intended to provide Aiways, which was founded in 2017, with vital new capital following original investment from Chinese technology giant Tencent, automotive battery maker CATL and ride-hailing group DiDi.

Production of the seven-year-old company’s U5 and U6 models is to resume at Aiways’ manufacturing facility in Shanghrao, China, during the second half of 2024 after being idled for almost a year due to slowing sales and a lack of sufficient capital to cover operating expenses and development costs.

“Aiways’ future sales will be via export from China,” a source adds. “Plans are to resume European sales in early 2025.”

Among the key European markets being targeted by Aiways are Germany, Italy, Holland and Norway. Prior to its current financial difficulties, it was represented in 16 European markets.

Together with the European market, Airways also plans to expand its sales presence in the Middle East.

Besides making Europe the focal point of global sales, Airways is hatching plans for an entry-level crossover model as part of a new five-year model expansion and global sales consolidation plan that is expected to culminate in it entering the U.S. market by 2030.

“We need to offer more affordable models to drive volume in more markets,” WardsAuto was told.

The intensifying EV price reductions in the Chinese market have recently led to several car makers suspending production and seeking investment.

Airways is among a group of Chinese EV start-ups, including Weltmeister and HiPhi parent company Human Horizons, to have run into financial difficulties due to a capital drain in the ramp-up of production and establishment of global sales operations.

Its initial public offering is planned to come after the Geely-owned and -operated EV brand Zeekr became the latest Chinese automaker to list on the Nasdaq.

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