Future Mobility to roll out first driverless electric cars by 2020
Tue 12 Jul 2016
Tencent-backed startup Future Mobility suggested that it will beat the likes of BMW, Audi and Mercedes-Benz, to have the first driverless electric cars on the road by 2020.
CEO Carsten Breitfeld told the South China Morning Post that the first models, being developed in China, will be targeted at middle-class buyers of German car brands, rather than of luxury electric vehicles from U.S. automaker Tesla.
‘Our market share will not come from what Tesla has today, it will come from…BMW, Audi and Mercedes-Benz [buyers],’ said Breitfeld, a former lead engineer behind BMW’s i8 electric sports car.
Future Mobility, which counts Apple contract manufacturer Hon Hai Precision Industry and China Harmony New Energy Auto Holding as shareholders, hopes to sell the new cars in the U.S. and across Europe, as well as at home in the Chinese market.
The startup is one of many supported by China’s top internet giants betting on the latest in green transportation. In addition to Future Mobility, Tencent has also invested in NextEV, which is considered one of Tesla’s top competitors.
Breitfeld noted that Future Mobility’s first cars would be priced at around 300,000 yuan (approx. £34,000), creating ‘a premium but affordable brand which will have global reach.’ It is currently aiming at an annual output capacity of between 250,000 and 300,000 units following the production of its first car model in 2020.
‘SUV (Sports Utility Vehicle) and SAV (Sports Activity Vehicle) are successful segments. We will go for those first,’ said Breitfeld.
The company has already set up a base in Silicon Valley to work on projects in autonomous car technologies. A further development centre will also open in Shenzhen from mid-October this year.
The CEO did not detail whether or not the company would be building its own production plant, but he referred to discussions with local authorities regarding future opportunities.