(Yicai Global) Aug. 10 -- Chinese electric car startup Qiantu Motor has released its first luxury sports car to rival Chinese new energy vehicle makers NIO, Xiaopeng and WM Motor Technology, while requiring more funds soon to finance full-scale mass production.
Qiantu showcased the K50 on Aug. 8 at its factory in eastern Jiangsu province, and delivered the first four cars to clients. The K50 is priced at CNY686,800 (USD100,100) after government subsidy, which is almost half higher than NIO's E8 sport utility vehicle. Despite the popularity of SUVs and sedans in the market, the Suzhou-based car firm plans to focus on sports cars in its next models too.
"As a new brand, do you want to compete against more than 100 existing automakers in a mainstream market for a one percent market share, or try to get a 50 percent share in a niche market?" founder Lu Qun explained the choice in an interview with Yicai Global.
The Suzhou-based company is not expecting roaring sales of the K50 but hopes that it will set the tone for later products. "[If something is] a niche product today it doesn't mean that it will remain so forever," Lu said.
Another reason for the decision is the battery life. Sports cars are smaller than SUVs and can use lightweight materials, such as carbon fiber and aluminum alloy, which makes them more efficient for all-electric driving.
The niche market of sports cars has strong players of international brands such as Porsche, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz, so the Chinese startup needs to sharpen its competitive edge. Emerging NEV brands are capable of producing reliable, high-quality cars from scratch, which this is not easy for the bigger brands, Lu said, adding that this is exactly where the firm's advantages lie.
Qiantu has raised about CNY3 billion (USD437.6 million) via equity and debt financing, and roughly CNY2 billion has already been spent to cover the costs of factory construction, licensing, and the development of all the planned three models.
Qiantu's parent, CH Auto Technology, was listed on electronic equity transfer system New Third Board in 2015 and it has not turned a profit yet. This means that Qiantu will need considerable amounts of funds for its future research and development, as well as for marketing and distribution. Lu did not disclose where the firm intends to find more financing.
The K50 boasts a maximum power of 276 kilowatts as well 650 newton-meters of torque. The maximum driving range is 365km and the car can go from 0 kilometers-per-hour to 100 kmph in 4.6 seconds with a maximum speed of more than 200kmph.
Editor: Emmi Laine