Chinese Mass-Market Electric Vehicle (EV) Startup Got $1 Billion in Funding

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Freeman Shen. Credit: svd.se
Freeman Shen. Credit: svd.se

The former Volvo China CEO and a top executive in the automobile business for more than two decades, Freeman Shen, has recently announced that his new electric vehicle start-up has just been granted some $1 billion in funding. Called WM Motor, the comapny wants to sell its first electric car in 2018, and make at least 100,000 cars by 2021.

“We will target the mass market”, WM Motor

Things are beginning to look up for electric vehicles. Tesla Motors has come out with a model with a price under $35,000. And now, some other Chinese companies have joined in. There’s Karma Automative which wants to start selling cars as of next year. Then there’s Faraday Future which is building a $1 billion factory in Nevada, as well as WM (weltmeister).

“We have profound experience in the industry, which distinguishes us from other startup companies, even Tesla,” Shen said in an interview for Bloomber. “We don’t want to make toy-like luxury cars for the minority. We will target the mass market.”

However, there aren’t too many details about the electric vehicle company itself. This is strange given the $1 bn investment. Shen has declined to say who were the investors, though it is known that they’re Chinese but they are not involved in the tech business. A possible investor here could be the Chines government itself since it desperately wants to lower its own carbon footprint as much as possible. They’ve announced that they want to introduce at least three million EVs each year onto the streets. This represents a drastic increase from the 300,000 in 2015. The country is already the biggest market for electric cars, surpassing the US last year.

“Building a fancy car to impress people is actually fairly easy as long as you’re willing to spend the money,” Shen says. “The most challenging part is mass production – coming up with a car everybody can buy, with high quality but at a significantly lower cost.”

As we previously said, there aren’t many details about WM, but we know that they’ll be using two platforms and that they’re already conducting road tests with their EVs. The factory will be built somewhere in Eastern China. With this company here, as well as 24 other Chinese electric vehicle start-ups opening this year, the EV market now has some 200 suppliers.