In the top ten billionaires directly involved in the automotive sector included in the official list of Forbes, year 2021, there is a cumbersome Chinese presence. It cannot be denied that the market within the Great Wall is the most important for all the players in the sector, and in fact many new billionaires have derived from this great influence. Which gradually climbed the charts and surpassed, in terms of personal wealth, many of the protagonists of the past – when it was the United States, Europe and Japan that had the scepter of global markets.
There are four Chinese in the top 10, three Germans and as many Americans, with Elon Musk leading the chart. But if the trend continues, it is possible that Asian billionaires may soon increase their presence and influence on decisions made across the auto industry. Given that among the almost 70 billionaires reported by Forbes, almost no one has lost money during 2020, and this is also a serious blow to all those who with Covid have lost fine euros or dollars, the brands known in Europe they substantially resist at the top of the ranking thanks to the Quandt family, linked to BMW, and to Georg Schaeffler, whose namesake company has gained more visibility thanks to the study of new technologies in the field of electronics.
China opens the top ten, in reverse order and growing, with Lu Xiangyang: he is the founder, together with his cousin Wang Chuanfu, of the group WORLD. He has assets of 9.1 billion dollars, while the relative is at 16.3 billion. The company blends two sectors of expertise: automotive and electronics, thanks in particular to a specialization in the production of batteries. One of the main investors in this company, which is still virtually unknown among European car enthusiasts, is another famous occupant of the Forbes chart: Warren Buffett.
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With a personal fortune of $ 15.5 billion, Wei Jianjun it is also part of the Forbes top 10: it heads one of the best-known Chinese car companies in our country: Great Wall Motor. Between 2020 and 2021, it nearly quadrupled its wealth. He started his career working in a carpet factory.
And then there is Li Shufu (in the cover photo), the richest Chinese entrepreneur in the automotive sector. The $ 19.7 billion man leads the group Geely, which today is one of the most famous Chinese builders on the planet, and also one of the few that is not controlled by the state. Geely has embraced the Volvo cause, exploiting a highly respected brand on non-Chinese markets, continuing his journey within the borders with many resources focused on technology, even if not strictly automotive.
Outside the top ten, China is still widely represented. Among the great billionaires there is for example Li Ping ($ 5.8 billion in assets), who is vice president of Contemporary Amperex Technology, a supplier of batteries for electric vehicles since 2011 better known by the acronym Catlus. The influence of this company on the electric car market is high, although from the dealership we may not notice it.
William Li he is the founder of Bitauto, a web provider that deals with the automotive world at 360 degrees, with comparative tests and provision of web services also for Chinese dealerships. Most importantly, after selling this company, he founded the car company Nio. It has assets of 5.8 billion dollars and is placed in the top 500. They call it the Chinese Elon Musk, and hers is one of the brands that would have the potential to arrive in Europe if growth continues after a period of crisis at the turn of the Covid pandemic.
Shortly after Li, in the Forbes chart, there are He Xiaopeng ($ 5.5 billion worth), founder of the Xpeng electric brand; is Huang Yi, founder of Zhongsheng Group, one of the largest dealers in China, moreover specialized in the sale of premium and luxury cars. All the protagonists of this wave of new rich Chinese executives are characterized by their youth: it is an under 60 list. Li Xiang, founder and CEO of the electric car manufacturer Li Auto: he is 39 years old and has already managed, last July 2020, to list his company on Nasdaq.