Electric Car Startups Backed by Chinese Firms – Part 1

It is the booming age for electric car startups. Interestingly, many such companies have a strong tie with Chinese firms. In this article, we will look at Karma Automotive, Faraday Future and NextEV (Nio).

Karma Automotive

Karma Automotive is a subsidiary of Chinese auto parts company Wanxiang. Wanxiang acquired the bankrupted Fisker Automotive in 2014 and renamed it as Karma Automotive earlier this year.

The headquarters of Karma Automotive are located in Costa Mesa of California, which they ended up buying in April for $56.25million. The company’s factory is located in Moreno Valley of California. Besides, Karma’s controlling company Wanxiang is interested in building a new auto plant in Hanzhou, China. The factory will be able to produce 50 thousand Karma vehicles annually.

Karma Automotive launched its first luxury car Revero on September 8th. The MSRP starts at $130,000. Potential customers can go to Karma dealership to order. Revero is based on the previous Fisker Karma plug-in hybrid, but now uses technologies from BMW. The company plans to build 3,000 units per year. Another model Atlantic, a low-cost 2-door electric car, is in the pipeline.

Faraday Future

Faraday Future was founded in 2014 and the headquarters is in Gardena, California. The company is reportedly backed by Chinese LeEco’s boss Yueting Jia.

Faraday Future released an eye-catching concept electric supercar FFZero1 during CES 2016, featuring a versatile Variable Platform Architecture (VPA). This is pretty much what we know about its product so far. There either is a target time to launch any product.

On the other hand, the company is expanding very rapidly. According to its website, there are over 1,400 people globally already. Faraday Future has attracted top talents in the industry, e.g. an automation expert from Apple.  However, recently some top executives left the company.

Facility-wise, a $1billion 900-acre factory is under construction in North Las Vegas, and another 157-acre formal naval shipyard near Silicon Valley is in negotiation. Recently, Faraday Future downsized the Las Vegas plant to 650,000 square feet. It will be completed by end of August this year. Moreover, Faraday Future will work together with LeEco on the latter’s planned $1.8billion EV factory in China, manufacturing 400,000 cars annually.

Faraday Future launched FF91 model in January this year. The cost would be “less than $300,000”. There were over 64,000 reservations within 36 hours of its debut. The delivery is expected to start in 2018.

Faraday Future has been granted to test self-driving cars on the road in California. It is also running a Formula E racing team – Faraday Future Dragon Racing.

NextEV (NIO in the US)

This less-than-2-year old company has already launch two electric cars.

The first one is a supercar named NIO EP9 with massive 1 megawatt of power (or 1,360 horsepower). The car was caught at the Nuerburgring, filming commercial footage. The supercar will cost $1.48million and Next EV plans to build only 10 of them. It will be available in China and US.

The second on is a 7-seater electric SUV – NIO ES8. The car will be capable of swapping the battery. Sales will be stated in 2018.

The China-based startup has offices all around the world including London, Munich and Silicon Valley. Top industrial executives like former Ford Europe boss Martin Leach and former Cisco CTO Padmasree Warrior have been involved with NextEV. Leach visions NextEV to be automaker version 3.0, a level up from Tesla’s version 2.0 over-the-air connectivity.

According to NextEV website, the company plans to build a half-billion motor plant in Nanjing China. It also has formed strategic partnership with Chinese carmaker JAC which will potentially be worth nearly $1.5 billion. There is a joint venture with China Changan Automobile.

NextEV joined Formula E race in its inaugural season and its racer Nelson Piquet Jr. won the championship in 2014/2015 season.

Weekly Electromobility News

315-Mile Tesla Model S P100D Now Available; GM Building Battery Pack Factory in China; Karma Automotive Moving into New Headquarters as its New Car Revero is near Launch

315-Mile Tesla Model S P100D Now Available

According to Tesla website, the company has made Model S P100D available. The car is loaded with a new larger 100kWh battery pack and can go 315 miles on a single charge. It marks the first 300-plus-mile electric car. Moreover, Model S P100D can do 0-60 mph in 2.5 seconds, third fastest production car behind LaFerrari and Porsche 918 Spyder.

Model X P100D is available as well, with an electro-range of 289 miles.

Upgrading cost from P90D is $10,000 for customers who have not got the car, and $20,000 for owners with the car, respectively.

GM Building Battery Pack Factory in China

According to SAIC-GM website, the company is investing 1.72 billion yuan ($258 million) on a battery pack factory in Jinqiao, Shanghai. The factory will support local electric car production. Moreover, by year 2020, SAIC-GM plans to spend 26.5 billion yuan ($3.96 billion) on the development of electrification technologies.

Later this year, Cadillac CT6 plug-in hybrid model will be introduced in China. By 2019, Buick and Chevrolet will launch a new plug-in hybrid car respectively. Also by 2019, Buick will produce a new all-electric car.

Karma Automotive Moving into New Headquarters as its New Car Revero is near Launch

According to Fortune, Karma Automotive (previously the bankrupted Fisker Autmotive) is moving into new headquarters in Irvine as big as 262,000 sq ft, to accommodate its rapid expansion. In just 14 months, the company has roughly doubled its size to 625 employees and plans to expand to about 800 by 2017.

Karma Automotive is launching its first luxury plug-in hybrid Revero on September 8th. Revero is based on the previous Fisker Karma, but now uses technologies from BMW. The previous Fisker Karma car was sold to celebrities like Leonardo DiCaprio and Justin Bieber and cost over $100,000. The company plans to build 3,000 Revero cars per year.