In the past, I have complained about mainstream media consistently putting all electric vehicles in the same melting-pot with no or very little regard for vehicle segments, or anything else than the powertrain really. I think EV enthusiasts are already very aware of this problem, but I still want to highlight this latest example because it’s simply a great one.
A Chinese startup backed by Beijing CH-Auto, Qiantu Motor, announced a new factory to build its first vehicle, the Qiantu K50 (pictured above), an all-electric roadster, which the media are presenting as a direct competitor to the Tesla Model S, a sedan.
This weekend, Bloomberg published an article on the company titled: ‘Tesla Challenger in China Plans to Debut $106,000 E-Roadster’, and Fortune followed up yesterday with ‘Chinese Firm Takes on Tesla With $106,000 Electric Vehicle’, and pushed it further by writing:
“It’ll also be an all-electric roadster designed to compete with Tesla’s Model S.”
Indeed, Fortune published this without challenging the idea of a 2-seat roadster competing with a 5+2-seat sedan – purely based on the fact that they are both powered by a battery pack. One is a ~5,000 lbs 4-door sedan with a ton of cargo space, it is viewed as a family car or a daily commuter, while the other is a 2-door sports car. There’s nothing wrong with a sports car and I am glad that more are being offered with electric powertrains, but they rarely compete for the same customers as large sedans.
It seems like the comparison was brought up because Qiantu executives are directly referencing Tesla’s business model as an inspiration for their company, but that still doesn’t explain how a roadster compete in the same market as a sedan. Qiantu Chairman Lu Qun on the announcement:
“We are learning from Tesla as well as all the other electric carmakers. We are aiming at building 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.”
Here are a few details about Qiantu and its roadster. Like Lu mentioned, it will have a carbon-fiber body. The startup aims for a 0 to 100 km/h (0-62 mph) acceleration in 4.6 seconds (slower than Tesla’s 4-door sedan by the way). It will be powered by two electric motors with 402bhp of power and 479lb ft (650 Nm) of torque. The range is estimated at 300 km (186 miles) on a single charge.
When Tesla brings back its own ‘maximum plaid’ Roadster, then both companies will have competing offers in the same segment.
Quiantu’s first factory will have an annual capacity of 50,000 vehicles, but it plans to increase its manufacturing capacity in China to 450,000 units by 2020, after the company will have introduced more vehicles to its lineup.
Featured Image: A CH Auto Technology Co. Qiantu K50 concept electric vehicle stands on display at the Beijing International Automotive Exhibition in Beijing, China, on Monday, April 25, 2016. Photographer: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg