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Tungsten, rare earth market trends and EV currents in China

We recently had the opportunity to exchange views with Chinese market players, during which we were able to talk about the strange stories of price movements in the Chinese market, and currents at the State Rations and Supplies Reserves Bureau (SRB). We will also provide information on China's policy of promoting electric vehicles, including information on ultra-low-cost EVs.

 

Mysterious price movements of tungsten

 

The market price of tungsten has not been swinging wildly.

Comparing the market price in China and the LMB (London Metal bulletin), the LMB price is a little higher than the Chinese market price.

If the Tungsten APT market price for LMB is 330-340$/MTU, the domestic market price in China is 320-330$/MTU, which is always a gap of around 10$.

 

 

(Source: MIRU.com Tungsten APT European market price table)

 

Normally, product prices are set closer to the lower price and distributed on the market.

 

However, the reason why the market price of tungsten on the LMB continues to be maintained in a divergent state is because tungsten consumption in the European region is slowing down.

 

In fact, if stocks continue to be held, market price movements will slow down and transactions themselves will be difficult to conclude.

 

As a result, the strange situation where tungsten prices are still misaligned between the Europe and the Chinese domestic market is likely to continue, according to Chart.

 

China's move to secure raw materials

 

China's State Reserve Bureau of Food and Materials (SRB) will start stockpiling mineral resources such as yttrium and erbium from the end of February.

 

According to a graph from MIRU.com, the mid-price for erbium oxide had indeed fallen to USD 39 per kg in September and November 2022, but the price has continued to rise since then and is currently at USD 44.5 per kg.

 

(source:MIRU.com market price table for erbium oxide)

 

Yttrium oxide also had a medium price in January this year (8,15USD per kg), but now the price is higher (8,75USD). Both are high-tech industry materials, and serve for laser. Of course, yttrium is a material for LED and electrodes. Saving yttrium included in rare earth mineral ores could mean a manifestation of inclination to put stress on the development of electric cars and high-tech industry in China.    

 

(Source: MIRU.com Market price list for yttrium oxide)

 

New energy vehicles and future challenges

 

China is currently working on the production of New Energy Vehicles on a country-wide basis.

The country is even aiming for a total of 10 million new energy vehicles in terms of the number of vehicles in use.

The term 'new energy vehicle' here is a generic term that includes electric vehicles (EV), plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHV) and fuel cell vehicles (FCV), and is defined uniquely in China.

Ordinary hybrid vehicles (HVs) do not fall within this framework, but are given preferential treatment under the name 'Low-fuel consumption'.

Under these circumstances, one of the electric vehicle manufacturers that has attracted the most attention in China is SAIC GM Wuling Automobile.

The company was established in 2002 as a joint venture between SAIC Motor, Guangxi Automobile and GM (General Motors), and is currently involved in the Baoshun series of low-priced crossover SUVs and Wuling brand vehicles.

The Wuling brand electric vehicle, the Wuling-Hongguang Mini EV, has been selling surprisingly well.

 

(source:Wikipedia Jengtingchen – work of the contributor

https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=95891671)

 

Sales of the new energy cars inside China reached 194,000 pcs annually by BYD in 2018, then in the same year, 143,000 pcs by Beijing Electric Vehicles, and was less than 200,000 pcs.

 

However, SAIC GM Wuling announced Wuling Hongguang Mini EV in 2020. The company sold a total of 164,000 new energy vehicles the same year, a trend that was driven by its low price and modest performance.

By 2021, the number will more than double to 423,000 units, well ahead of Tesla's 322,000 and BYD's 297,000.

The Wuling Hongguang Mini EV is very low-priced considering it is an electric vehicle.

The minimum base grade car has a battery capacity of 9.3kWh and is priced low at 28,800 RMB (approx. 450,000 yen), the intermediate grade at 32,800 RMB (510,000 yen) and the advanced grade with air conditioning and a battery capacity of 13.9kWh at 38,800 RMB (600,000 yen), yet it can seat four people and has an overall length of 2,917 mm and width of 1,493 mm, boasting microcar-level compactness.

 

However, although it is a four-seater, the rear seats need to be folded down in order to carry luggage.

Power output is also a major issue, with the Hong Guang Mini EV boasting a maximum output of 20 kW and maximum torque of 85 Nm and a vehicle weight of about 700 kg.

The Nissan Sakura, currently being talked about by Nissan Motor Co, has a maximum output of 47 kW, maximum torque of 195 Nm and a vehicle weight of 1070-1080 kg.

Considering that the Nissan Sakura is an electric vehicle with a performance level close to the average Japanese kei car, the Hong Guang Mini EV is not suitable for anything other than city driving and is not suitable for driving on slopes or at high speeds.

The small size of the vehicle body also leaves some concerns about the suspension and other braking forces, as well as the comfortability of the vehicle.

 

As the performance of electric vehicles generally declines in cold weather, the Chinese car market continues to produce so-called hybrid vehicles other than pure electric vehicles.

In addition, even inexpensive electric vehicles are still too expensive in rural and other suburban areas, and cheaper alternatives are new energy vehicles available on the market as second-hand vehicles.

One example is Guazi, a used car sales platform operated by Chahaoduoo Group, which has raised USD 200 million in funding from Sequoia Capital China and Softbank Vision Fund, where used EVs can be purchased for as little as RMB 20 000. can be purchased on Guazi, a used car sales platform operated by the Chahaoduoo Group.

The charging infrastructure is not yet fully developed, so the question remains as to how far the infrastructure can keep up with the speed of vehicle diffusion.

It is a Oversupply, so to speak.

 

As a reason for rushing to increase the number of new energy vehicles, we can see the speculation that they will ride the boom first.

 

Japanese site is here

 

 

(IRUNIVERSE ICHIMURA translated by MK)

 

 

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