Close to the central axis of Guangzhou's Zhujiang New Town, on the east side of Huacheng Square, there is a Hengchi Exhibition and Experience Center. Every time I pass by there, I can't help but look up and take a few more glances, trying to understand the current state of mind of the car owners who bought Hengchi cars for various reasons.
In these precarious days of Evergrande, this store located in the core business district of Guangzhou, the brand behind it, and not many car owners are all waiting for an uncertain future.
But compared to Hengchi's unresolved situation, Weimar, which has been at the center of the whirlpool for a long time, seems to be about to settle.
On October 12, WM Automotive Technology Group Co., Ltd.’s official Weibo released the “Notice of Declaration of Pre-Reorganization Claims of WM Automotive Technology Group Co., Ltd.”. It can also be seen from the National Enterprise Bankruptcy and Reorganization Case Information Network that WM Automotive Technology Group Co., Ltd. has applied Bankruptcy and reorganization
According to Tianyancha data, WM Motor currently has 21 pieces of information on persons subject to execution, and the total amount subject to execution exceeds 100 million yuan.
At the same time, car owners discovered that WM's back-end server may have stopped serving, and the networking-related functions of the car and mobile APP have been restricted. Even unlocking the car door with a mobile phone has become a luxury.
In the era of smart cars, the bankruptcy of car companies has caused more troubles than before, and the difficulties faced by car owners have become more complicated.
While car companies are building "mobile homes" one after another and constantly giving cars multiple attributes, once a company goes bankrupt, it will be like a thunderstorm for real estate companies, leaving a mess.
The fallen new forces, the helpless old car owners
At the end of 2022, Weimar was rumored to be suffering from poor corporate management, and its stores and headquarters were empty. Before that, Weimar's sales had also collapsed.
Gradually, car owners, dealers and even employees began to speak out. Car owners demanded compensation and after-sales guarantees, employees demanded full salary payments, and dealers demanded repayment and turnover.
Asking for explanations and holding banners are still familiar ways of defending rights, and they are still the familiar methods of getting nowhere.
The Shanghai Qingpu District Consumer Protection Committee also issued a consumer reminder, advising consumers to be cautious when purchasing WM cars.
Although Weimar's deep trouble did not happen in a day or two, and many car owners were somewhat mentally prepared for this, the sudden disconnection of the server still made car owners feel angry.
The software in the large-screen car is limited, and the community APP cannot be used. Secondly, the mobile phone key cannot unlock the door, and the charging record and power consumption information cannot be displayed as usual. The most troublesome thing is that ordinary fuel car companies will go bankrupt. What effect does it have on your odometer and fuel tank needle.
When the car machine goes offline, the original "smart car" becomes more difficult to use than an "old fuel car".
However, what Weimar took at the beginning was also an intelligent route. In the original publicity, WM highlighted that "EX5 will be 100% connected to the Internet, and interconnection has been achieved in areas such as map navigation, social networking, smart home, and energy."
How thoroughly intelligence transforms cars, the impact of server shutdown can be magnified.
Nearly a day after the server went offline, WM Motor's official Weibo stated that the vehicle system has been restored to use.
By the way, Weimar's official Weibo is currently labeled as "the company's qualifications have not been reviewed."
In addition to the considerable impact on daily use, subsequent vehicle after-sales maintenance and second-hand sales are even more difficult.
The maintenance of new energy vehicle companies relies heavily on the official after-sales services provided by the vehicle companies. Auto repairmen on the roadside will most likely not be able to solve electrification and software problems in depth.
As for second-hand car sales, there is no need to go into details – not many people will be willing to buy a used car from a defunct brand.
Following the debate about "new energy vehicles not retaining their value", new energy vehicle owners may also have to face the new issue of "new energy vehicle companies go bankrupt and residual values are almost wiped out." Compared to the former, this issue is much crueler.
The mighty horse was once majestic.
Go forward a few years, and in that era when there were new car-making forces everywhere, and you might not be able to name all the car companies, there were four companies that emerged from a large number of new forces: Ideal, NIO, and Xiaomi. Peng, and Wei Ma.
At that time, Wei Xiaoli had not yet been ranked as Li Weipeng according to sales volume, and Weimar was also outlining its future product matrix. These four new Chinese car companies were collectively referred to as the "Four Little Dragons" by many people at the time.
But compared with the other three, WM Motor has a unique achievement – WM Motor is the first new force to achieve mass delivery.
In September 2018, WM EX5 started mass delivery, becoming the first among many new forces to convert the "PPT pie" into physical objects. CEO Shen Hui said at the WM EX5 launch and delivery meeting held at the Wenzhou production base: "This year's delivery target is to complete 10,000 vehicles, and next year's goal of completing 100,000 vehicles remains unchanged."
For the whole of 2022, the sales volume of WM EX5 will not exceed 4,500 units, which is not even as good as the ideal single-week sales volume in early October.
Nowadays, when Weilai has spread its battery swap network all over the country, and Xiaopeng is talking about cooperation with the public, and its ideals are obsessed with selling sales lists, Weimar can only send a declaration of debt for restructuring.
I woke up so early that I couldn't even make it to the evening market.
According to Weimar official statement:
Due to the impact of the epidemic, sluggish capital markets, sharp fluctuations in raw material prices, and setbacks in obtaining operating and development funds, Xianma fell into operating difficulties.
To put it bluntly, there is no money.
But in addition to the external economic pressure that all car companies need to face together, WM Motor also has many problems of its own.
As more and more WM cars are sold, everyone begins to notice that news about WM spontaneous combustion appears more and more frequently. WM Motor's approach can be called the most negative approach taken by new energy vehicle companies in dealing with the spontaneous combustion problem in recent years.
WM chose to "upgrade" its owners' cars, but the owners who had been "upgraded" found that their car's battery life dropped significantly – yes, WM's so-called upgrade was to quietly limit the rechargeability of the battery. input the maximum capacity, thereby protecting the battery.
Such secret crossings angered car owners and discouraged consumers who were waiting to buy.
On the smart driving route, WM chose to bet on Baidu Apollo rather than purely in-house research. However, Baidu’s progress in smart driving has been quite slow. WM Motor, which had previously advertised intelligence, naturally followed suit in terms of marketing communications. On fire.
Due to financial difficulties, Weimar tried to IPO three times, but all ended in failure. WM then attempted a backdoor listing by acquiring WM Motor from Hong Kong-listed company Apollo Travel, but the acquisition also ended in termination.
WM CEO Shen Hui's performance during the decline of WM is also quite interesting.
Shen Hui's resume is quite impressive. As one of the few "regular players" among the new forces, Shen Hui has served as an important executive in Fiat Power, Geely, and Volvo. In 2009, Geely Li Shufu invited Shen Hui to serve as director and vice president of Geely Holdings. Shen Hui also completed the acquisition of Volvo for Geely, which was "the largest overseas merger in the history of the Chinese automobile industry."
In early 2023, after Weimar encountered problems, Shen Hui shared a video from "Furong Town" on his blog. The line was "Live on, live like an animal." It seemed like a last-ditch fight.
However, as time went by, Weimar's frozen equity and the amount of enforced execution increased. Shen Hui himself was once listed as a breach of trust person because Weimar failed to pay 14,065 yuan in employee wages.
As the Weibo comment area was gradually flooded by car owners and employees who complained, Shen Hui closed the Weibo comment area and all comments were not displayed.
On September 10, Shen Hui posted on Weibo, saying, "I went on a business trip to Munich and then New York this week." When read together with Shen Hui's English name "Freeman", it seemed to have the flavor of "returning to China next week."
Apocalypse of the collapse of new forces
I told you not to buy off-brand cars, now you deserve what you get, right?
At a time when new forces such as WM, AIWAYS, and Tianji seem to be defeated but not defeated, this kind of remarks will always appear at the right time, which makes people feel a little dumbfounded while their blood pressure is high.
We are all consumers, and the car owners who unfortunately bought these cars are even more victims. No matter how wrong we are, the consumers are not to blame, so don’t just mess with each other.
However, the core starting point of such remarks does have its rationality, that is, new forces have limited risk control capabilities and weak foundations. It is easy for things to happen without telling them. If something goes wrong, it will be difficult to ensure 10 Year-long parts warranty.
Not to mention boastful words such as "lifetime warranty". When I bought a car, I expected the car's "lifetime", but I didn't expect it to be the car company's "lifetime", and it came quite quickly.
In fact, new car owners are indeed "crab eaters" to a certain extent. Although crabs are delicious, they are also at risk of being pinched by crab claws.
When NIO is going through its "most difficult year", many people can't help but wonder who will take over the huge and closed battery swapping station facilities if NIO gives up its choice, and how the subsequent commercial operation will affect the experience of NIO car owners. What an impact it has.
Fortunately, Weilai has finally managed to survive, and car owners can still catch up on the news about Weimar's pre-restructuring during the time between battery swaps.
Closed car-machine systems, independent power-supply advantages, self-developed assisted driving, etc. These configurations and facilities, which are regarded as moats by car companies, are all deeply bound to car companies.
This also means that when buying a new energy smart car, you must not only look at the quality of the configuration, not only the probability of "painting futures" coming true, but also the health of the brand. The brand value attributes that some new forces don't care about finally have the highest value at this moment.
And when car companies are at the end of their rope, some people may lament that compared to the isolation of the first party, third-party accessories and ecology are the life-saving straw. If this is not possible, external CarPlay screens and other accessories may still make frustrated car owners My mood is a little better.
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