Chinese electric car start-up Future Mobility eyes global market in challenge to Tesla

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 17 August, 2017, 3:22pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 17 August, 2017, 3:22pm

Future Mobility Corp (FMC), a Chinese electric-car maker considered one of Tesla’s challengers in China, said it will start taking global sales reservations after unveiling its first concept car in January 2018.

The start-up that eyes competing with Tesla on a global scale said its first car, expected to hit the market in 2019, is designed to not only meet safety requirements in China but also in the United States and Europe.

“China has the potential to have two to three Tesla-size companies and that means globally successful electric-car makers,” said Daniel Kirchert, co-founder and president of FMC.

“We are hoping to be one them. So we are based in China and have an eye for the global market,” he said in a media briefing on Wednesday.

With a team of former executives from BMW and enginers who worked for Google and Tesla, FMC recently closed a US$200 million funding round led by an investment fund of Suning Holdings and state-owned companies from Jiangsu province, where FMC’s global headquarters and factory are located.

Chinese electric car start-up Future Mobility edges closer to taking on Tesla

According to Kirchert, the company will unveil its “beautifully designed” concept car during CES, a global consumer electronics and consumer technology exhibition, in Las Vegas in January. Sales reservations will be available for Chinese consumers at the beginning of 2018 and will gradually open to overseas buyers later that year.

The concept car will be similar to FMC’s first mass production model – a luxury sport-utility vehicle (SUV) priced between 300,000 yuan (US$44,833) and 50,000 yuan – which Kirchert claims is well positioned to compete with the Audi Q5 and BMW X3.

The company is racing head-to-head with a clutch of mainland’s electric car start-ups, including NextEV and Zhiche Auto, to reshape the traditional automobile industry by producing smart cars featuring internet connectivity and much better in-car information and entertainment systems.

“The DNA of traditional car makers is engineering, which makes it difficult for them to transform in the increasingly digitalised world and that gives us a huge opportunity, ” Kirchert, a former president of Dongfeng Infiniti Motor, said.

Previously backed by Chinese internet giant Tencent Holdings and electronics giant Foxconn, FMC is expected to undertake two more rounds of funding in 2018 to feed the heavy investment needed to build a car manufacturer from scratch.

In Nanjing, capital city of Jiangsu province, FMC’s more than 10 billion yuan factory is scheduled to break ground in September. It will initially have a capacity of 100,000 units a year and will eventually expand capacity to 300,000 units a year.