China’s electric car boom fuels a war for talent


The electric vehicle boom in China is also fueling an employment boom and a war for talent.

I recently met two friends who both join Chinese electric vehicle makers of foreign companies – drawn to the opportunity to step into the next big business’s ground floor and big paychecks.

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This in itself is a big change from years past, when a job at a foreign automaker was seen as more prestigious and better paid than domestic companies, especially since local electric vehicle manufacturers like Nio were on the verge of collapse of their start-up. phase.

But with soaring demand – sales of electric vehicles are expected to more than double to 3 million units this year, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers – and Nio and Xpeng on firmer footing, join an automaker Chinese is now considered a good career change.

The number of jobs in the new energy vehicle sector jumped 95% in the first half of 2021 compared to the previous year, and the average salary jumped by almost 10% according to the recruitment firm Liepin. Experts in artificial intelligence, autonomous driving and intelligent cockpit design are most in demand.

An offer letter circulating on Chinese social media from electronics titan Xiaomi – which is investing $ 10 billion in plans to start manufacturing electric vehicles and recently bought autonomous driving startup Deepmotion – highlights at what the employment scene looks like for people with the right skills.

A snapshot of the employment contract of a senior engineer in the company’s automotive unit shows an annual salary of 600,000 yuan ($ 93,600) – more than five times China’s average income – and about 1 million yuan of stock options. While a Xiaomi spokesperson declined to comment on the numbers, it seems consistent with what I’ve heard from my friends who have changed jobs.

One, a woman in her 40s, joined a Chinese electric vehicle maker earlier this year after more than a decade at an American automaker, where she believed she would have worked until her retirement. In addition to better salaries and stock options, being part of a more dynamic corporate culture and helping to build a prosperous future for the company provides great job satisfaction, even with the overtime she worked, she told me.

Another, a man in his 20s who joins a well-established Chinese automaker, doubled his salary when he made the switch. Although initially reluctant to change jobs, he was also convinced by the increased responsibilities and the greater potential that this new role brings.

The change also occurs in the C-suite. Alain Visser, a General Motors and Ford veteran now runs Lynk & Co., which is trying to shake up the traditional model of car ownership with a subscription service.

Asked about the main difference between his old jobs and his new role in the unit of Chinese auto giant Geely, Visser said it was the pace of change and how quickly things were being done.

“I dare say, with all due respect to Ford and General Motors, it was pretty much the same,” he said. “The big difference at Geely for me is speed. It’s incredible.”

“The will to make things happen, I’ve never seen it. What it takes months to decide at other automakers I’ve worked for takes days at Geely. I think the speed here is crazy. I don’t think I could ever go back to my previous career, ”Visser said.

For my friends, the feeling is the same – adding a brain drain as another threat that mainstream automakers face as the shift to electric driving looms in the future.

© 2021 Bloomberg

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