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Joe Chao, speaking in Los Angeles on Wednesday night: "The China market is still on the rise, especially for new-energy vehicles."
Chinese EV startup GYON launches partnership with Gaffoglio
Alysha Webb | 2018/8/10

LOS ANGELES -- Another Chinese electric vehicle startup threw its hat into the already-crowded ring Wednesday night. The GYON brand said it formed a partnership with Gaffoglio Family Metalcrafters Inc. to build a prototype for the first in what the company hopes will be a portfolio of EVs.

GYON -- which stands for Grow Your Own Niche -- has a mission to "create the next generation of electric, intelligent, connected, and socialized transportation products and services."

Gaffoglio, of Fountain Valley, Calif., designs and builds prototypes and has been tapped to design GYON's prototype.

"We are proud to be part of the creation of this incredible concept car," said Chairman George Gaffoglio.

Details of the prototype were scanty. It likely will debut in late 2019 or 2020, Joe Chao, GYON co-founder and president, told Automotive News.

The prototype will set the stage for a portfolio of nine models over the next eight years. The first will be in the A and B segments, priced from 100,000 yuan renminbi to 200,000 yuan renminbi, or $14,668 to $29,337 at current exchange rates.

They will have a range of 360 to 373 miles on a single charge, GYON says. The company has proven battery and charging technology, said Chao, though neither has gone into commercial production. The company says the battery can reach an 80 percent charge in 10 minutes and fully recharge in 15 minutes.

The plan is to produce the vehicles in two plants in the southwest China city of Chengdu, where GYON is based. The local government is an investor in the EV company. But, said Chao, GYON is still in negotiations with the Chengdu government about the plants.

Chinese connections

Chao and several other GYON executives are also executives at Sitech Auto, which, with investor and partner state-owned automaker FAW, launched its own EV, the Dev1, this year.

GYON's EV does not share technology with the Dev1, said Chao. But, he said, GYON might use an FAW plant if GYON's factories aren't finished when it is ready to begin production.

There were no details on GYON's financing. It is still raising capital. Though it has enough money to get started, Chao indicated, it needs more capital to execute ambitious plans.

International sales, including the U.S., are part of a long-term plan, but "China for the moment will be our priority," Chao said.

"The China market is still on the rise, especially for new-energy vehicles," he said. New-energy vehicles include battery-electric, plug-in hybrid and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.

Still competition

GYON will face stiff competition in an already-crowded China EV field that includes startups Nio; WM Motor Technology Co., or Weltmeister; and Xiaopeng, as well as EVs from established automakers such as General Motors and Volkswagen.

Arriving late to the EV game will benefit GYON, said Chao, who, as CEO of DaimlerChrysler's China operations, oversaw the construction in Beijing of a plant to produce Mercedes-Benz E-class and C-class vehicles.

"This is the perfect time for us to jump in," he said. "We have learned a lot from other's experiences."

LaSorda attends

Chao also was previously a senior vice president at Chrysler. His former boss, Tom LaSorda, was at the event here.

Chao's lean manufacturing experience will help GYON succeed, said LaSorda.

"One of the biggest problems for startups is making the cars," he said. "This brand has to be shockingly exciting."

Also at the event were Jacky Xian, a GYON investor and CEO of Sitech; Sunho Park, head of GYON quality center and also quality manager at Sitech; Sebastien Yang, manager of GYON marketing and product planning; and Thomas Zhang, chief engineer.

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