In the field of new energy, the "new forces" have been "suppressing" the traditional car companies for all to see. Faced with this scenario, one of the key strategies for traditional Chinese manufacturers to respond is to change their thinking and create a new brand that is significantly different from the original brand in terms of design style, positioning and philosophy. These brands, which are distinct from both new and traditional car companies, are known to many as "traditional new forces". From the earlier brands such as Eyen, Jixu, Lantu and Ola, to the more recent ones such as Jikrypton, Tenshi, Jiji, Fei Fan, Avita and Deep Blue, this new category is becoming increasingly large.
After some initial ups and downs and some brand pains, the "traditional newcomer" camp is gradually finding its way and getting better. For example, Eyen sold over 45,000 units in May. Krypton and Deep Blue, the up-and-comers, have also managed to stabilise their monthly sales at 7,000 to 8,000 and continue to grow. Avita, Jiji and Fei Fan, including Arashiro, are also gradually escaping the dilemma of traditional car companies in the new energy sector.
Those who are interested may start to count their fingers: Great Wall, Chang'an, Geely and even BYD, GAC, SAIC and even BAIC have them all, so who is left? Chery! Indeed, although Chery has been involved in the pure electric field for a long time under the name "Chery New Energy", and the market performance of products such as the Little Ant and QQ Ice Cream has been impressive, it is clear that this is not a "traditional new force". This brings us to the subject of this article: the iCAR.
Chery launched its new brand iCAR back in April this year, and its first production car, the iCAR 03, rolled off the production line in June. So, as such a late arrival, is iCAR just going with the flow, or does it intend to be a latecomer? Perhaps we can find out from the iCAR 03, which has been partially announced.
Positioning: a very clever "young brand"
When you think of a new force, one keyword pops into many people's heads: "high-end". Whether it's Tesla or Weeley, almost all of them are following this line of thinking. The success of these pioneers has led to many more following suit - look at the "traditional new forces" listed at the beginning of this article, from Arata to Krypton, from Jiji to Avita, all of which start at a high price of 300,000.
Whether this is a right or wrong move is open to question, but the result has undoubtedly been a very crowded track. This year's price cuts have also hit this price bracket hard - anything less than 50,000 yuan is considered "solid". iCAR is not going to do well if it gets involved in this battle. If iCAR gets involved in this battle, it is clear that nothing good will come out of it.
At the brand launch, iCAR repeatedly emphasized that its target group is young people, without any eclectic or multi-layered coverage. The "i" logo, which looks like a grid and a jigsaw puzzle, and the series of interpretations of the "i" letter at the launch, all seem to emphasise that this is a The new powerhouse brand for young people. Of course, a more accurate measure of positioning is the iCAR 03's price range of RMB 150,000, which completely avoids head-on confrontation with the mainstream newcomers.
Note that the iCAR 03's '150,000 RMB range' is very different from the '150,000 RMB range' of second-tier newcomers such as Zero. Instead of creating a homogeneous product of similar size to the market, it relies on new product design ideas to create a model that is aimed at a specific group, fills a gap in the market, and is strong enough.
It's easy to say that the one who gets the youth gets the world. Many manufacturers may have thought the same thing when they set up their projects. But getting it right and making it a success is a test of the team's skills - not just their ability to innovate, but also their ability to understand the needs of the market. We certainly can't say whether iCAR 03 will be a success, but that doesn't stop us from seeing how it's done.
Design: reinventing the hardcore trend
When you look at the iCAR 03, the keyword "hardcore" is likely to come to mind. Obviously, this resonates with the trend in a way that is just right. In the past two years, from Bronco, Tank and Big Dog in fuel cars to the not-yet-launched 'big hit' of the new energy car, the Look Up U8, it is a testament to the preference of the current user group for this style.
The official definition of the iCAR 03 is an ARV, which means ALL ROAD or ALL ROLES. iCAR 03 does have some enhancements from what is known, such as an all-bearing, all-aluminium body structure, but also a one-piece die-cast longitudinal beam. This means that the extreme lightness of the car has been taken into account along with the need for rigidity. However, this does not mean that the iCAR 03 is a hardcore SUV; it is more of a design product of this style trend, but not a big toy to satisfy off-road enthusiasts.
From our point of view, the iCAR 03 has adopted such design thinking to reflect another level of understanding of pure electric vehicles and another kind of creativity in the design of the model.
Why are the new powerhouse products popular? There are many reasons, but the bold breakthroughs in design are definitely to blame. The new powerhouse, represented by Tesla, focuses more on streamlined styling and a sense of sportiness, which has a lot to do with its need to boast high performance far beyond that of a similarly priced fuel car.
However, if we look at it from a different perspective, this linear design is also very much in line with the pure electric positioning.
The iCAR 03 is only 4.37 metres long, but it doesn't look like a 4.3 metre car - the visual impact is roughly the same as a compact fuel SUV. The 2.7 metre wheelbase is also responsible for this, in addition to its straight lines being 'big'.
Yes, the exaggerated wheelbase length ratio is a feature of the pure electric model. Combined with the hardcore styling, this will revolutionise the space inside the car. Although we have yet to experience the iCAR 03 in action, we would venture to predict that the iCAR 03 will exceed many people's expectations.
Another reason we agree that the iCAR 03 is not 'hardcore' is that it doesn't go retro in its styling, which is what sets it apart from many hardcore SUVs today. On the contrary, the iCAR 03 is more futuristic in many of its details. This is clearly reflected, for example, in its badge and the shape of the front and rear lights that incorporate elements of the badge, combined with the somewhat concept car-like straight lines.
Because of this, we believe that design creativity is likely to be a major plus point for the iCAR 03's product strength. This is also in line with the usual logic of the success of products from new forces, including traditional new forces.
Application: following the trends and hitting the pain points
If the positioning and creativity are "good", a new product is likely to be "good". The final key will be in the product strategy. As the iCAR 03 is still only offline, we can only analyse and "look ahead" based on the available information.
From the official announcement, iCAR 03 repeatedly emphasises "scene intelligence". This can be interpreted as a feature of its car smartphone. There are more and more signs that the car, or more precisely the smart car, will become the most important smart terminal for people after the PC and mobile phone. Some analysts in the semiconductor industry are even pinning their hopes on automotive intelligence for the next long term growth cycle of semiconductors. As a new powerhouse brand targeting young people, it is only natural that iCAR will focus on this aspect.
Until we get to experience it, all we can do is "look at the pictures" and "talk about it on paper". Judging from the released interior pictures, the iCAR 03 cabin is "full of technology". Many people's eyes may first be drawn to the rose gold colour scheme and the intricately crafted crystal shift knob, but what we are more interested in is the screen and what is on it. Although the size of the centre screen is unknown at the moment, visually it is already quite impressive - large enough and with a narrow bezel the visual effect is premium enough. Of course, the more important focus is also on the interface and system.
Since you haven't experienced it before, is this part of the story "silent"? Not really. You can notice the i-VA avatar on the interior, which will be an important part of the iCAR 03 and the "scene intelligence" it advocates. From the official announcement, iCAR 03 will focus more on interaction and service intelligence. This is different from the current "roll" culture that focuses too much on computing power and chip equipment. It is clear that iCAR 03 wants to better meet the needs of young drivers through "scene intelligence", so that they can experience the intelligent services of iCAR 03 without emotion, but also enjoy interacting with the system of iCAR 03.
There is no clear information on the triple electric power that everyone is concerned about. The official announcement is "intelligent adaptive electric four-wheel drive equivalent to 2.5TGDI power", a description that should be enough to make people "relax" about its power. As for the range, there is not much doubt: based on the current industry chain, Chery New Energy's precipitation in the three electric technologies and its control of the mainstream market demand, the final result should not disappoint. Rather than speculate, it is better to leave it in suspense until the launch to see how many surprises it can bring.
But one thing is certain, and certainly the strength of the traditional newcomers, namely service and channel building. According to Wang Lei, iCAR has already started channel building, and expects to achieve 200 brand updates and 100 sales centres by October. These 300 shops will enable coverage of more than 78% of the country's cities. Combined with the interaction of virtual digital people and the establishment of MY iCAR's user brand, more can be expected from iCAR's service brand.
Although the current new energy market is buzzing with new cars and competition seems to be getting more and more white-hot (otherwise there wouldn't be an impressive price drop), there are still very few products in the price range of around 150,000 that are creative enough to appeal to young consumers and offer good value for money. iCAR 03 has found a blue ocean for itself through its creative design and precise positioning, while meeting the needs of a specific group. The iCAR 03 has found a blue ocean for itself. From the information available, the iCAR 03 has the foundation to make a comeback, but the final outcome will depend on the product strategy, service and quality as announced.