Tesla challenger in China to market 700,000-yuan electric roadster

One of China's biggest homegrown automotive design companies is taking the plunge into producing its own electric roadster, seeking to stand out from other Chinese electric vehicle startups by making a car with materials found more commonly in business jets and yachts.
Qiantu Motor, set up by car design company Beijing CH-Auto Technology Co., is building a factory in the eastern city of Suzhou to produce an electric car with a carbon-fiber body and aluminum frame, Chairman Lu Qun said in an interview.
The K50 sports car will debut next year with a starting price of 700,000 yuan ($106,600), he said, comparable to Tesla's Model S, which is made of aluminum. The price is about a third of the BMW i8, which features a carbon-fiber body.
"We are learning from Tesla as well as all the other electric carmakers," said Lu, 48, a former Jeep engineer who left Beijing Jeep Corp. in 2003 with some colleagues to start Beijing CH-Auto. "We are aiming at building high-performance cars, and there's no other option but to build our own factory, because there isn't a plant in China that has a carbon-fiber molding workshop."
Tesla sold 3,025 Model S and Model X cars in China in the first nine months of 2015, though the Palo Alto, Calif., electric carmaker would like to be a far bigger player in that market.
Qiantu's success ultimately will depend on marketing and reputation, according to Steve Man, a Hong Kong-based analyst for the auto industry at Bloomberg Intelligence. "It will take a lot of patience and capital to build a consumer standing that is time-tested," he said. "Let's see if it has staying power."
Other aspirants
China is a crowded market for electric cars, with nearly every carmaker rolling out models to meet stricter fuel-economy standards in a market that the government has targeted to expand tenfold from last year to 3 million vehicles by 2025.
The government heavily subsidizes EV buyers if they buy locally made cars -- as much as 100,000 yuan in some cities. Tesla doesn't manufacture in China, though founder Elon Musk said this year that the company was looking for a partner to do so.
Among the other Chinese aspirants are Chehejia, backed by the founder of China's premier car-buying portal, Autohome Inc. It plans to introduce EV including an SUV by the end of 2017.
Internet service portal Tencent Holdings and electronics contract manufacturer Foxconn Technology Group have backed a new vehicle maker called Future Mobility.
NextEV Inc., founded by Chinese tech entrepreneur William Li, has produced an electric Formula E series racer. Billionaire Jia Yueting, who founded Le Holdings Co., a maker of Web-enabled TVs and smartphones, unveiled a concept four-door electric sports car named LeSEE in April.
Traditional carmakers in China are also beefing up development of new energy vehicles. Chongqing Changan Automobile Co., Ford Motor Co.'s partner in China, will invest 18 billion yuan to add 34 new-energy vehicle models by 2025, President Zhu Huarong said at a forum in Chongqing Monday. The carmaker this year completed a 1,200-mile road trip to test a self-driving car as part of its ambitions to produce highly automated vehicles by 2020.
15% EV market share
The wave of investment has made the electric and self-driving arena an increasingly crowded one, Musk told Recode's Code conference last week.
"There've been so many announcements of autonomous EV startups. I'm waiting for my mom to announce one," he said.
Lu, a graduate of China's elite Tsinghua University with a degree in automotive engineering, started his career at Jeep's China operations. His Beijing CH-Auto counts Nissan Motor Co.'s China venture among its customers. Qiantu was created in 2015 as a wholly owned subsidiary to develop electric cars.
Qiantu may produce cars for other companies at its 2 billion yuan factory, which will have an initial annual capacity of 50,000 vehicles, Lu said. The company is aiming for a 15 percent share of the EV market by 2020, or as many as 450,000 vehicles, he said.
Qiantu, which means future in Chinese, also plans to introduce two cheaper models after the K50, Lu said. "We will convince consumers that China is capable of building a new car brand, a new premium car brand, and a new premium pure-electric car brand," said Lu. "We will achieve this step by step."

Source:Automotive News China

2005-2014 www.researchinchina.com All Rights Reserved 京ICP备05069564号-1 京公网安备1101054484号