The executive implied that the new car makers, including NIO, were using psychology to hide the inherent deficiencies of EVs and their lack of technology.
A few months after NIO founder, chairman and CEO William Li sparked controversy late last year with his comments about fuel-powered vehicles, a Great Wall Motor executive's pushback has brought the topic back into the spotlight.
"Some time ago, the founder of some new carmaker said, 'I really don't understand why people still buy fuel cars? Do they like the smell of gasoline?' I give this founder a thumbs up for his masterful marketing," said Li Ruifeng, CEO of Great Wall Motor's Wey brand.
He made the remarks at the March 1 launch of the Wey Mocha DHT-PHEV, and while not naming him, he was clearly referring to William Li.
"They have managed to hide the innate deficiencies of electric vehicles (EVs) with the social-psychological construct of superiority, the technical deficiencies with the mass sociological setting of the Internet user's profile, and the embarrassment with playing nice to you," the Wey brand CEO said, according to a video circulating on social media.
The Wey brand announced two Mocha DHT-PHEV models at the event, priced at RMB 295,000 ($46,700) and 315,000 respectively.
The brand's CEO said that many new car makers, and even traditional luxury premium brands, have created new anxieties, such as mileage anxiety, instead of fundamentally solving consumers' problems.
In his opinion, Wey brand's DHT technology is the optimal solution to current consumer anxiety, and is the best new energy technology in the world today.
In fact, NIO's William Li's previous controversial comments were not made in public, but in a small exchange on December 19 last year - the day after NIO Day 2021 was held.
He said at the time:
I don't understand at all why people still buy fuel cars now. What's so great about (fuel cars) other than the fact that they can give you the smell of gasoline?
It's true that electric cars had a lot of inconvenience in the early days, but today, in fact, in most scenarios, if people are used to using them, where's the anxiety?
That's why I've always said that those who are still anxious about replenishing energy are basically gasoline car users, who are worrying for electric car owners. I said that a few years ago, and I'm still saying it now.
Li didn't seem to realize when he made these comments that they would be videotaped and widely distributed and controversial.
Many felt that his comments offended fuel car owners as well as potential car buyers, who make up more than 80 percent of consumers in the Chinese auto market.
Some commented that it was fine for Li to promote EVs, but that there was no need to disparage fuel cars.
Following the controversy, Li was forced to clarify, attempting to tone down his comments by stating:
My intent was that in previous years the charging and battery swap infrastructure really wasn't convenient enough and there were few good electric cars.
But now the infrastructure is evolving quickly and there are many good options available in all price ranges.
Now is the time to choose an electric car, and the dramatic increase in electric car penetration in China this year is indicative of this trend.
While his comments offend some, they are supported by China's official media, at a time when the country strongly supports the development of the EV industry.
"Instead of dwelling on this slightly exaggerated comment, we should change our mindset, adapt to the new trend of industrial change, and inject more positive energy to accelerate the high-quality development of China's new energy vehicles (NEVs) and lead the world," the official Economic Daily said in an article published last December 24.
If Li had said these words a few years ago, no one might have cared, after all, EVs and fuel cars can't be compared. Now the reason for the uproar can only show that people care more and more about EVs, the article said.