U.S., European and Chinese Backers Fund Autonomous Electric Cars for the Masses
【Summary】European, Chinese and U.S. investors are raising billions of dollars in investments for electric vehicle start-ups in silicon valley. The companies aim to draw inspiration from the likes of Tesla to debug their operations and bring advanced electric vehicle technology to the masses in a cost effective manner.
Los Angeles based company, EVelozcity has secured $1 billion in funding from U.S., European and Chinese investors. The company claims that it aims to develop a more efficient range of electric vehicles which will avoid the mistakes made by Tesla and will draw design and marketing inspiration from the tenure of Apple iPhone. At the same time the company has ensured that it aims to develop these vehicles while keeping the economic limitations of the masses in mind. These products will not go on sale with premium price tags, instead they will be within the reach of the general public.
The start-up was co-founded by veterans of electric car company, Faraday Future and BMW. The company claims they will go into production by 2021 and will use third-party contractors to manufacture the products and supply autonomous software. This move aims to keep the cost of production low and the company has no interest in entering the luxury car segment.
EVelozcity believes that the production hurdles faced by Tesla's more affordable offering the Model 3 can mainly be credited to an inadequate supplier network and inefficient manufacturing processes. The company argues it will be able to overcome these problems by working with other automobile manufacturer, suppliers and independent contractors. They have stated that the inspiration behind this approach was drawn from the production and assembly of Apple iPhones.
The company says that the cars will be built on a "skateboard" platform. The underpinnings will house majority of the mechanical components of the vehicle including the electric motor, battery packs, a possible onboard generator. This will provide the cars with a low center of gravity which like the other EVs on sale will bestow great handling characteristics to the vehicle. It will also mean that the mechanicals of the car will be completely independent of its body shell, which will give owners the liberty of shuffling through different body types they desire. This is reminicent of the GM Hy-Wire concept, which was first unvieled back in January 2002.
Like EVelozcity, there are several other startups like NIO, Lucid Motors and Faraday Future, which have showcased impressive prototypes but have failed to bring their offerings to the market. Even Tesla with its globally adored products has not been able to show a profit over the 15 years it has been operational. The billion-dollar funding and a new production model might just be the solution the startup need but the odds don't seem to be in their favor.
Another Chinese-funded electric car company, SF Motors recently procured a permit to test their autonomous driving technology from the California Department of Motor Vehicles. The company is headed by Tesla co-founder Martin Eberhard. Last year the start-up bought InEvit, which was a battery manufacturing company and earlier in 2016 SF Motors entered into a $2.5 million partnership with University of Michigan to develop their own autonomous driving technology. The Santa Clara based company has announced that it will hold its brand-release conference on March 28th and to mark the occasion SF Motors will unveil three of its intelligent electric SUV models.
Manish Kharinta is a automotive writer based in the Los Angeles area. He has worked for automotive industry websites TheSmokingClutch.com, CarDekho.com and CarBikeindia.com. His experience ranges from covering auto shows, to car reviews and breaking automotive news. Manish aims to bring forth his unique perspective on automotive design and technological innovations in the automotive industry.
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