Does not want to make 'toy-like luxury cars for the minority.'
Nowadays it feels like just about every car company out there wants to go up against Tesla. From startups to well-established automakers, many want to replicate the success of the Palo Alto-based EV manufacturer. Newcomer WM Motor from China wants to join the party and it has already raised $1 billion USD (about $1.29B CAD) in an initial fundraising, with the target to launch its very first production car in 2018.
The company was founded last year by Freeman Shen who used to work for Geely and went on to become CEO of Volvo China. He picked the name ‘WM’ after the word ‘weltmeister’ which in German means ‘world champion.’ In an interview with Bloomberg, the company’s founder announced plans to ramp up annual production to 100,000 cars by 2021 and is targeting the mass market because it does not ‘want to make toy-like luxury cars for the minority.’
Shen went on to specify WM Motor is currently developing two platforms and it has already commenced road tests. Some of the hardware such as batteries and electric motors has been engineered by a German tech company Shen acquired to help boost development of the cars. To accelerate the process, the EV startup wants to double its employee count to approximately 600 people this year in China and Germany.
Three models are on the agenda, with the first one set to take the shape of an electric compact sedan to rival the Tesla Model 3. Shen mentioned they are ‘not making a luxury car,’ but the plan is to bring ‘luxury-like quality to a mainstream car.’ There aren’t going to be a lot of physical dealerships because WM Motor wants to sell cars primarily on the Internet.
The models are going to be assembled at a new factory in eastern China, but first the company needs to obtain a production license for which it will apply in the following months. Initially, the local market is going to be the main priority for WM Motor and it might enter the United States later on.