Atieva is an interesting company. We’ve covered its various PR offerings related to its ridiculously fast electric test van Edna quite a lot — there’s just something about seeing a nondescript van smoke fancy sports cars in drag races that gets our attention.
That said, it would be nice to see an actual production vehicle that people can go buy, rather than a test van loaded with all of the latest tech but that you’ll never be able to buy. Reportedly, Atieva is slated to unveil its first electric car not that long from now, though, thankfully. The expected unveiling is for sometime in early December.
Interestingly, this electric car will apparently look a fair amount like the Tesla Model S — if images/documents reportedly obtained by Recode through public records requests are to be believed.
When this electric car will be released is an interesting question to keep in mind — the company says 2018, but there are still a lot of question marks as far as manufacturing goes. The aim is apparently to have a US-based facility manufacturing 20,000 units a year to begin with, and for production to be ramped up to 130,000 units a year at some point, but nothing solid has been revealed yet about this desired mystery facility.
Recode provides more: “Using public records requests, Recode has also obtained exclusive images of the car’s design and initial manufacturing facility: An electric bike company in rural China. The documents, which were filed with the state of California late last year, say that Atieva’s first vehicle will be called Atvus. The design render shows a conventionally streamlined, four-door sedan much like a Model S.”
You can see in the image above that there are also obvious design elements focused on achieving a great drag coefficient, and thus efficiency and range.
Continuing: “When asked by California officials to provide a photo of its manufacturing facility, Atieva submitted a picture of the Dayang Motorcycle company in Luoyang. Dayang makes a range of electric scooters and motorbikes, as well as a tiny two-seater micro-car called Chok with a top speed of 49mph. The Chok is so small it is even allowed in bike lanes in China. Atieva already has some presence in Asia, with a Taiwanese research hub and a facility in Shanghai.”
Recode also provides some interesting background on the firm: “Atieva was formed in 2007 by Weng and two co-founders, Bernard Tse and Sheaupyng Lin. The company initially worked to develop batteries and electric drivetrains, filing more than 100 patents and delivering battery packs for electric buses in China. That all changed in 2014, when two Chinese firms invested around $100 million for a nearly 50% stake in the firm. One was BAIC, a Chinese state-owned carmaker, the other LeEco (then called LeTV), a technology company making televisions, smartphones, and electric bikes. Atieva went on a hiring spree and pivoted to developing a complete, autonomous electric car to compete with Elon Musk’s Teslas.”
It should be noted here that LeEco has its own electric car concept, has raised $1 billion, and is seemingly backed in large part by the same billionaire backing Faraday Future. We’ve been writing about Jia Yueting since 2014, when he indicated that the source of his focus is cleaning up air pollution in Chinese cities (and, presumably, helping to stop global warming): “This is our dream and passion. …. Look at China’s skies, all responsible corporate citizens want to do something about it. This is the truth.”
Here’s more on this topic and others from Recode again: “Vehicle development progressed well through 2015, according to former executives, but there was growing friction among investors. Jia Yueting, the billionaire owner of LeEco, had quietly started his own electric vehicle startup, Faraday Future, in 2014, without informing the Atieva board. Then LeEco announced its own plans to develop a luxury, connected EV called the LeSEE. Meanwhile, BAIC was attempting to get access to Atieva’s battery and drivetrain technology, and wanted to shift the company to focus on Chinese buyers. In November 2015, co-founder Bernard Tse was abruptly ousted as CEO. Then in early 2016, according to former executives, BAIC sold its stake in the company. According to several sources close to Atieva, the buyer of BAIC’s shares was Jia Yueting.”
Hmm, that’s quite a web. It should be noted here that Bernard Tse was a VP & board member of Tesla Motors from 2003–2007, and that his LinkedIn profile still shows him as CEO of Atieva.
According to the story, though, Atieva is still operating without a CEO, and the firm’s Chief Technical Officer, Peter Rawlinson (also formerly a Tesla VP and Tesla’s Chief Engineer 2009–2012), is apparently handling day to day operations for the company.
For a look at the performance of Atieva’s test van Edna, which can now do 0-60 mph in just 2.74 seconds, see this article.
Image from Atieva/public records via Recode