Another Chinese electric car startup hits snags

February 22, 2017

When you hear the phrase "Chinese electric car startup", you probably think of Faraday Future, an ironically named enterprise with no past and diminished future prospects.

But Faraday is far from the only Chinese company that's set its sights on the electric car market. At last count, there were at least seven such firms, and soon, there'll be an eighth--if it can clear the necessary hurdles. 

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Like some of the other companies on that growing list, Future Mobility sometimes gets billed as the "Chinese Tesla". And like Tesla, Future Mobility is facing some regulatory problems that could hinder its production efforts. 

For what it's worth, Future Mobility has a decent pedigree, given its founders' credentials from BMW and Nissan. And unlike Faraday's de facto CEO, Chinese entrepreneur Jia Yueting, Future Mobility seems to have a slightly more reasonable, level-headed approach to production: rather than building a plant from scratch, it's identified a pre-existing factory in Nanjing to be its base of operations, where it hopes to produce 150,000 vehicles a year to start. It's open to sharing space at another automaker's plant until it can move into its own digs. 

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However, it has yet to secure a manufacturing license from Beijing--a long, drawn-out bureaucratic process that could take two years to complete. That would take the company well into 2019, the deadline it had previously set for selling its electric cars.

Will it succeed? No one knows, but it has two things going for it: (1) the Chinese government's strong push to make the country the global leader in electric cars, and (2) the fact that its first model is likely to be an SUV, a category of vehicle that's growing in popularity around the globe. Stay tuned...

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