Tesla Motors Inc faces tough competition from Chinese competitors. Future Mobility, an electric car startup backed by the Chinese Internet giant Tencent Holdings, plans to build a premium electric car. The electric car startup wants to have its first electric driverless vehicle on the road by 2020. Aside from Tencent, Future Mobility is also supported by Chinese luxury-car dealer Harmony New Energy Auto and Foxconn Technology Group.
Future Mobility Targets German Buyers
Future Mobility CEO Carsten Breitfeld said that the company’s first model, to be produced in China, is being targeted at middle-class buyers of German premium brands rather that Tesla, the South China Morning Post reported.
Breitfeld, the former head of a team building the BMW i8 electric sports car, said: “Our market share will not come from what Tesla has today, it will come from [buyers of] BMW, Audi and Mercedes-Benz.”
It seems that the company wants to first focus on the Chinese and European markets before coming to the U.S. According to Breitfeld, Future Mobility’s first car will be priced at about 300,000 yuan (HK$348,000). He noted that their goal is to produce “a premium but affordable brand which will have global reach”.
The company is planning to build 250,000-300,000 cars annually. The company’s first model could arrive in 2020, and it plans to add more models to its lineup, Breitfeld said.
It is not clear whether Future Mobility will build its own production plant. Breitfeld said that they are discussing plans with some local governments regarding the manufacturing facilities.
Future Mobility is hiring talent engineers to build its electric cars. The company has picked 50 engineers from BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Tesla and Google. Breitfeld said that the firm will have 600 engineers globally within 12 months.
The company will be able to raise “a significant amount” through its Series A funding round, which will be completed by the end of this quarter, according to Breitfeld.
“We have had a lot of discussions with people from the capital market in the past month preparing for a B or even C round. We are interested in strategic investors because the auto business is a long-term business,” he added.
Future Mobility has no plan to introduce any automaker as a strategic investor.
Tesla Motors Inc is facing a growing competition from Chinese competitors and large automotive companies. Another Chinese firm, Le Holdings Co Ltd., also known as LeEco, recently unveiled an all-electric battery concept car, called LeSEE. The company believes that the production version of its electric concept car will compete head-on with Tesla’s Model S.
Large automakers are also focusing on electric vehicles in a bid to meet long-term goals of zero emission. The competition in this space is growing. In December, Ford Motors announced plans to invest an additional $4.5 billion in electric vehicles by 2020. General Motors is also building an all-electric Chevrolet Bolt EV, which expected to be launched in late 2016 as a model year 2017.
Tesla In China
As we reported earlier, Tesla Motors Inc is reportedly building a massive factory in China to boost the production of its electric vehicles. The U.S. car marker will form a joint venture with Jinqiao Group to setup its production facilities in Shanghai. The partnership will invest about $9 billion on building facilities in the country’s biggest city and a global financial hub.
Lack of charging infrastructure was the biggest roadblock for Tesla’s continued growth in China. As we reported earlier, car owners in China will no longer have to worry about charging infrastructure as the electric car maker is working to increase its charging infrastructure in the country. Currently, there are around 100 supercharging stations in China, with about 400 superchargers in total.