EV startup WM Motor will target individuals, not fleet operators, for sales

Automotive News China

Automotive News | 2018-5-11

WM Motor sees individuals, not fleet operators, as its main customers even though the electric vehicle startup has partnered with domestic ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing to develop electrified vehicles to sell in China, CEO Freeman Shen said.

Didi last month formed an alliance with 31 auto industry companies -- including global brands Toyota and Volkswagen as well as domestic marques such as FAW, BAIC and BYD -- to boost the number of EVs in its network to 1 million by 2020 from 260,000 in 2017. 

WM Motor¡¯s first product, the EX5 compact electric crossover, will have a variant for fleet operators, but the company¡¯s business model is geared more toward attracting individual consumers, Shen told  Automotive News China  last month at the Beijing auto show.

By April 25, WM Motor had received more than 5,000 orders, most from young shoppers, for the EX5 from consumers, five days after it announced the prices for the vehicle, Shen said.

The vehicle has a starting price of 166,500 yuan ($26,245). After government subsidies, the starting price drops to 99,000 yuan.

Dozens of EV startups have emerged in China, but few have begun mass production, Shen said. 

¡°We are far ahead of many other [domestic] EV startups in production and financing -- 20 billion yuan so far,¡± he said.

The EX5 is built at WM Motor¡¯s plant in the east China city of Wenzhou, which can produce up to 100,000 vehicles a year at full capacity. 

WM Motor debuted the concept of its second product, the EX6 coupe, at the Beijing auto show. Mass production of the vehicle is to begin next year.

Shen believes that to survive, EV startups must increase annual sales to 100,000 vehicles two to three years after beginning mass production. But he declined to reveal his company¡¯s expected 2018 sales. 

Shen, Volvo Car Corp.¡¯s former China president, created WM Motor in 2016 with investors including Chinese tech giants Baidu and Tencent as well as U.S. trading firm Susquehanna International Group.

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