As US electric vehicle manufacturer Tesla Motors takes the fight to the internal-combustion establishment, one Chinese firm in particular looks poised to take the fight to Tesla: NextEV.
Already, the NextEV TCR Formula E Team is deeply invested in the world of EV racing. Now, with the financial backing of several Chinese internet entrepreneurs and investors, Reuters reports that NextEV is preparing to design and built its first production electric vehicle.
NextEV Spokesperson Jili Liu told Reuters that “the first model launched by NextEV will be an electric supercar.” She continued: “This EV supercar is expected to outperform all combustion [engine] supercars in the world.” It’s reportedly expected to debut in 2016, offering 1,000-plus horsepower, and a sub-3-second 0 to 100 kmph time.
Supporting NextEV with some undisclosed amount of capital are Chinese internet company Tencent, Bitauto.com founder William Li, autohome.com.cn founder Xiang Li, and JD.com founder Richard Liu, according to Reuters. Chinese investment firm Hillhouse Capital Group is also a backer.
Perhaps just as important to NextEV’s efforts to go head-to-head with the likes of Tesla Motors is who the Chinese EV-manufacturer has managed to poach from the pool of global automaker executives. Former Ford Europe COO Martin Leach has been brought on as a co-president, and former Tesla Model S Program Director John Thomas has also joined up. Additional hires have past experience with Ford, General Motors, BMW, Volkswagen, and other major players.
While Chinese automakers have historically done little to impress the American market, NextEV already has offices in both the US and Europe, a strong Formula E racing presence, and now, possibly enough staff and capital to actually make a splash.