The Chinese magnate controls the world market for electric batteries, dominates that of electric cars, while Hungary enters the scene!
Forget Elon Musk. The most important man in world capitalism is called Yu Qun Zeng, Robin Zeng for Western friends.
According to the Italian Corriere Della Sera “he will soon make a difference in our lives, but little is known about him. He is 55 years old, resides (officially) in Hong Kong, holds a doctorate in physics from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, is estimated between thirty and forty billion dollars (37th in the world), and is the founder, executive chairman and majority shareholder of Contemporary Amperex Technology Ltd (Catl).
His company controls more than a third of the global market for electric batteries and is the main supplier of so-called “capitalist giants” of the 20th century like Ford or BMW, but also… champions of the 21st century like Tesla. .
All of this seems extremely important. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), global spending on electric cars reached nearly $500 billion last year.
This is a 50% increase from 2021. This year will certainly see even more growth.
While many dream of biofuels, in the last months of 2022 the share of battery-powered cars registered in Europe (not to mention hybrids) has far exceeded that of diesel.
Today, the diesel is tainted by the scandals of Volkswagen, which postponed emissions tests to hide the “seniority” of its model in the face of climate challenges.
Lithium battery cars now represent the majority of models sold in Europe, but Europe is nothing: half of the almost thirty million models currently on the market are in China.
Whatever the European directives say, in a few years new cars running only on petrol or diesel will be rare.
We are facing a revolution that is not only technological or of an industrial model. It also affects Europe’s trade flows and challenges our destiny as an advanced society.
However, we are about to submit to the mysterious, yet brilliant Robin Zeng. An entrepreneur with a doctorate in physics whose Chinese name only appears on the web when searching for patent citations. A man who founded his first lithium battery company at a young age, sold it to a Japanese electronics multinational, then launched a spin-off that is now the world champion in technology right now .
In the past, Europe had a huge surplus, selling the Chinese a quarter of five or six billion euros worth of cars (including Italian parts for German cars) while importing almost nothing.
Today, Europe is still profitable, but China exports battery electric cars to the EU at around ten times the value of the reverse.
In terms of new technologies imposed, in an area once dominated by Europe, we are clearly in a trade deficit. We only remain surplus in declining technologies. Meanwhile, China has gone from exporting cars to the world worth $15 billion in the 2021 quarter to exporting $70 billion today.
The role of Hungary in the European market
As for us Europeans, we are so behind that we don’t even understand what is happening around us. It’s not just that six of the top ten electric battery manufacturers are Chinese, three are South Korean and one is Japanese. What is even more important is how they move around Europe.
In recent years, four of these producers have announced more than eleven billion euros of “greenfield” investments (i.e. factories from… nothing) in a single country of the European Union. : the allegedly illiberal and pro-Russian Hungary of Viktor Orbán, who is working to make Hungary the center of electric batteries in Europe, on which large groups such as Volkswagen, BMW and Daimler will depend.
It goes without saying that the investments are led by the 7.3 billion Catl… Robin Zang.
In three or four years, Orban’s Hungary has attracted more foreign technology investment than a country like Italy has ever had in its history.
But Italy is only a particularly striking case of the lack of vision from which all of Western Europe suffers. And batteries are an example of more general techno-industrial backwardness in this corner of the world.
It’s about knowing how to invest even with less anticipation than that of Robin Zang.”