A Chinese automotive startup is raising money with the stated aim of launching its first electric self-driving car by 2020, company executives told news outlets Tuesday, and the first round of funding is expected to be completed by September.
Future Mobility Corp. is one of several Chinese startups in the electric vehicles industry, and is backed by heavyweight investors, including internet giant Tencent Holdings, electronics manufacturer Foxconn and car dealership group China Harmony New Energy Auto Holding. In March this year, it poached its leadership team from BMW’s electric vehicle line, and in May, at least two executives from Tesla Motors came on board as well.
CEO Carsten Breitfeld, who was project manager for the BMW i8 plug-in hybrid sports car before moving to Future Mobility, told Reuters that unlike Tesla, the company will not focus on only one model at a time or have limited production of its models.
“Right from the beginning we define the platform, right from the beginning we define the production process to be mass production and right from the beginning we think of more than one model, a family of models, defined from this platform,” he said.
The first passenger vehicle from the upstart automaker would cost about 300,000 yuan (about $45,000) and the cars will be sold in China, Europe and the U.S., according to Chief Operating Officer and co-founder Daniel Kirchert. The company is also going on a hiring spree, and will employ 600 people by the end of 2017, up from the current core group of about 50, he added.
Speaking to Bloomberg, Kirchert also said the company was currently “mainly talking to mainland-based investors as well as investors that are publicly traded in Hong Kong. But going forward we will consider investors from Europe and the U.S. given that we are running a pretty open platform.”