Date
28 July 2017
A  Qiantu K50 concept electric car is shown at a Beijing International automotive exhibition. The production model will be priced at US$106,000. Photo: Bloomberg
A Qiantu K50 concept electric car is shown at a Beijing International automotive exhibition. The production model will be priced at US$106,000. Photo: Bloomberg

Tesla’s Chinese rival to compete on price and performance

It will be made with materials found more commonly in business jets and mega yachts and it will compete with Tesla on price and performance.

When China’s Qiantu Motor rolls out the K50 E-Roadster next year, it will be priced at 700,000 yuan (US$106,000), comparable to Tesla’s Model S, which is made of aluminum.

The price is about a third of the BMW i8, which also features a lightweight carbon-fiber body that improves performance, Bloomberg reports, citing chairman Lu Qu.

Qiantu Motor, set up by car design company Beijing CH-Auto Technology Co., is building a factory in the eastern city of Suzhou to produce the electric car with a carbon-fiber body and aluminum frame, Lu Qu said.

“We are learning from Tesla as well as all the other electric carmakers,” said Lu, 48, a former Jeep engineer who left Beijing Jeep Corp. in 2003 with some colleagues to start Beijing CH-Auto.

“We are aiming to build high-performance cars, and there’s no other option but to build our own factory because there isn’t a plant in China that has a carbon-fiber molding workshop.”

Tesla sold 3,025 Model S and Model X cars in China in the first three quarters of 2015, although the Palo Alto, California-based electric carmaker would like to be a far bigger player in the world’s largest vehicle market.

Qiantu’s success will ultimately depend on marketing and reputation, according to Steve Man, a Hong Kong-based analyst for the auto industry at Bloomberg Intelligence.

“It will take a lot of patience and capital to build a consumer standing that is time-tested,” he said. “Let see if it has staying power.”

Electric vehicle making is a crowded field in China, with almost every carmaker rolling out models to meet stricter emission and fuel-economy rules in a market that the government has targeted to expand 10-fold from last year to three million units by 2025. 

The government heavily subsidizes electric vehicle buyers if they buy locally made cars, as much as 100,000 yuan in some cities.

Tesla does not manufacture in China, although founder Elon Musk said earlier this year that the company was looking for a partner to do so.

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