Daily Management Review

China’s Mass Market for Electric Cars Eyed by China’s WM Motor while Taking on Tesla


08/12/2016




China’s Mass Market for Electric Cars Eyed by China’s WM Motor while Taking on Tesla
As mainstream automakers are reluctant to go full tilt at the new technology of electric vehicles, this sector is drawing more talent from mainstream companies.
 
Better pay and pioneering opportunities await those who make the jump. According to a person close to the company, a $15 million monthly payroll is catered to by one Chinese-backed start-up with around 900 employees.

Two years ago WM Motor was launched an EV start-up that aims to compete with Tesla Motors in China, was launched by one such 'defector' is Freeman Shen, who quit Chinese carmaker Geely. China is a market that encourages the new technology through policy and subsidies and is the world's biggest autos market.
 
Shanghai-based WM Motor's funding, in the "billions of yuan", is from Chinese investors, but not technology tycoons or venture capital funds, says Shen, even while other Chinese EV start-ups including LeSee, NextEV, Future Mobility and Qiantu Motor are mostly backed by big internet groups such as Alibaba and Tencent. He declined to say who the money has come from.
 
Shen, 46, is betting on ordinary drivers in China's big cities wanting more affordable EVs and aims to make smart, connected electric battery cars. He is betting on his two decades of experience in the United States and China, with BorgWarner, Fiat and Geely, which in 2010 bought Swedish car brand Volvo.
 
Rather than follow Tesla in first building a high profile super all-electric battery sports car, he plans to go straight for this mass market.
 
"Building a fancy car to impress people is actually fairly easy as long as you're willing to spend the money. The most challenging part is mass production - coming up with a car everybody can buy, with high quality but at a significantly lower cost," Shen says.
 
while Beijing is offering incentives and policy support for EVs, there is a 5-year window of opportunity to establish WM Motor in China, Shen reckons.
 
"I don't think traditional car companies are doing well selling cars, especially with their customer experience. With smart, connected cars, I believe I can change that," says Shen, who has an engineering Masters from University of California at Los Angeles. We're not a traditional car company. We see ourselves as a service company," he says. His friends, family and former colleagues "all think I'm nuts" for starting a new auto brand from scratch, acknowledges Shen.
 
With today's often-idle cars replaced by smart cars that can tell the owner when the oil needs changing or a service is due and can be leased out when not needed or shared as part of a city fleet, the advocates, including Shen, see smart, connected EVs revolutionizing the car industry.

"What's important for these emerging EV companies ... is the potential change in customer experience, if they can transform the way the car fits into our lives. Creation of an entire ecosystem enabled by fast mobile internet connectivity, location-based intelligence ... will be critical," says James Chao, Asia-Pacific managing director at consultant IHS.
 
(Source:www.reuters.com) 






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