Should Tesla be worried?
Last spring we learned Chinese company LeEco, whose main expertise has been smartphones and smart TVs, has designed and built a prototype EV called the LeSEE. According to Automotive News, Le Holdings Co. has just raised $1.08 billion to develop that EV concept. LeEco's billionaire co-founder and head of Le Holdings Co, Jia Yueting, is serious about the electric car business. Last April he said the biggest problem for the project was financing and this huge infusion of cash solves the money problem, for now.
The eventual plan is to reach an annual production of 400,000 cars. A production version of the LeSEE is still some time away and we expect its final design, inside and out, will be somewhat toned down from the radical concept. It's not really surprising that LeEco managed to secure financing because the Chinese government is supposedly set to dramatically shake up its domestic EV industry by limiting the number of start-ups from more than 200 to just ten. That's why securing financing and doing so quickly is critically important for any of these companies and their future survival.
The question remains whether they can actually build an EV that surpasses anything from Tesla which, unquestionably, has the most expertise and experience in this field. At the very least, the surviving Chinese EV companies, including LeEco, need to have unique and original designs, an area that Chinese automakers, in general, don't do so well at.