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Meet WM Motor, the Latest Chinese Electric Car Startup

August 18, 2016, 4:43 PM UTC
People visit a Tesla showroom in Beijing on July 9, 2014. Electric carmaker Tesla on July 9 denounced a Chinese businessman's lawsuit seeking millions of dollars for alleged trademark infringement as an attempt to "steal" its property and "without any conceivable merit". AFP PHOTO / WANG ZHAO (Photo credit should read WANG ZHAO/AFP/Getty Images)
WANG ZHAO AFP/Getty Images

Another day, another Chinese electric car startup with major ambitions and big funding.

This week, Bloomberg reported on WM Motor, an electric car startup led by Freeman Shen, the exec behind the acquisition of Volvo by Chinese auto maker Zhejiang Geely. Shen left Geely two years ago and launched WM Motor last year.

The company has now reportedly raised $1 billion in funding, making WM Motor the latest well-funded startup hoping to make or sell electric cars in China. The long list of newcomers includes Chinese auto parts maker Wanxiang, which owns Karma Automotive (the revived Fisker), NextEV, Atieva, and LeEco, which funds Faraday Future.

There’s also BYD, which is both backed by Warren Buffett and sold the most electric cars in the world last year. Elon Musk’s Tesla Motors (TSLA) has appeared to struggle in China due to the country’s difficult regulations for foreign companies.

Bloomberg noted there’s more than 200 Chinese electric car companies building 4,000 new electric car models.

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For companies that are able to succeed in China’s electric car market, there’s generous support to be had from the Chinese government and a large growing market for electric cars in the country. Building factories in the country can also be key to tapping into government support.

WM Motor plans build a factory in eastern China, launch its first electric car model in 2018, and eventually produce 100,000 cars per year. The company’s cars will target the mass market in contrast to Tesla’s current cars and Karma Automotive’s planned first cars.

For an inside look at the Tesla Gigafactory, watch:

Wanxiang’s factory in Hangzhou, China could make as many as 50,000 electric cars per year and could produce the Atlantic, a car that was originally intended to be produced in Delaware. LeEco, which backs Faraday Future, plans to build a $1.8 billion factory in eastern Zhejiang province, which could produce 400,000 cars per year.

A company called Xindayang is using battery tech from Boston Power (formerly based in Boston) to make electric cars, and sold about 32,000 electric cars last year.