New EV companies are cropping up like dendrites on a lithium metal anode. The latest startup to emerge from stealth mode is called NextEV. Like many of the current crop (see Faraday Future, Atieva, Fisker, Leshi), NextEV is backed by Chinese investors, and is not affiliated with a traditional automaker, although it has recruited execs from major OEMs including Tesla, BMW and Volkswagen.
NextEV’s backers include Chinese internet firm Tencent, and several well-known entrepreneurs who made their fortunes in Chinese internet companies, as well as Hillhouse Capital, which has ties to Yale University.
The Chinese government recently changed regulations to encourage non-automotive companies to get into the EV scene. Other Chinese tech companies that are dabbling in the market include Alibaba, Xiaomi and Leshi.
NextEV partnered up with first season Formula E champs China Racing and has named ex-Ford executive Martin Leach as Co-president. Leach ran Ford’s European operations until 2003, and later headed Maserati. Other hires include Juho Suh, a former Senior Designer at BMW, and John Thomas, an erstwhile Tesla exec who helped to develop the Model S.
NextEV’s first model will (of course) be an electric supercar. “This EV supercar is expected to outperform all combustion supercars in the world,” NextEV spokeswoman Jili Liu told Reuters. It’s expected to debut in 2016, and will deliver over 1,000 horsepower, and a 0-60 time a fraction of a second faster than anything else.
The company will initially focus on the Chinese market, Liu said.
And what does Tesla think about the latest upstart to challenge the champ? “We’re happy to see other people use the Model S sedan and our business model as benchmarks, whether they are large companies or well-funded startups,” said Tesla raconteur Ricardo Reyes.