China's Qiantu Motor to Manufacture EVs in North America With Domestic Partner

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
chinas qiantu motor to manufacture evs in north america with domestic partner

Every few weeks, it seems there’s another Chinese manufacture promising to wriggle into North America. This week it’s Qiantu Motor, which intends to build the K50 electric sports car with help from California-based EV firm Mullen Technologies. According to a preliminary agreement published on Mullen’s website, the American firm will homologate, assemble, and market the electric sports car in North America in 2020.

Simon Lei, Qiantu’s Head of Product Planning, previously expressed the brand’s intent to sell the model within the United States last April. Naturally, we’re always a little skeptical of these kinds of claims, given China’s track record on the matter and the ongoing trade war.

The K50, which looks like the Asian lovechild of the Acura NSX and Audi R8, comes with an electric motor for each axle — yielding a combined output of of 408 horsepower and 442 lb-ft of torque. Qiantu estimates its 0-to-6o time at 4.6 seconds and a maximum range somewhere around 228 miles using the New European Driving Cycle.

That’s not particularly impressive, but it isn’t an abysmal disappointment, either. Mullen has said it will import assembly-ready components from China while also tapping domestic suppliers, resulting in the model reaching consumers at an “unexpectedly affordable” cost. Perhaps if the price is low enough and the build quality high enough, consumers will respond. Still, Automotive News cites the K50’s Chinese starting price at 754,300 yuan ($109,320). That’s far too expensive for it to be a hit in the United States.

Helping to rationalize the price, the model comes with LED headlamps, Brembo brakes, Pirelli tires, mostly aluminum frame, and carbon-fiber body panels. Qiantu said the K50 will also be available with an optional 15.6-inch touchscreen, high-tech instrument panel, and a solar roof.

Another important aspect of the partnership is that it gives Qiantu access to CarHub, a subsidiary of Mullen. The digital platform should give the Chinese brand direct retail access, allowing it to circumvent traditional dealer networks. Considering the K50 is extremely unlikely to become a high-volume model if it comes to North America, that ought to suit it just fine.

“Mullen is thrilled to embark on this journey together with Qiantu to bring sexy and exciting new options to North American consumers,” said Mullen CEO and Chairman David Michery. “The 100 percent electric Qiantu K50 meets exotic automobile criteria without the exotic price tag. I believe that we can grow clean transportation in North America by bringing highly desirable options to market. Mullen Technologies, with its technology, commercial teams and distribution systems in place is geared to accomplish exactly that.”

We shall see.

[Images: Qiantu Motor]

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2 of 22 comments
  • RHD RHD on Dec 19, 2018

    Is that front end legal? If so, it's nice to see a design that won't bludgeon a pedestrian and crush their hips, but take them out at the knees instead.

  • TMD748 TMD748 on Dec 19, 2018

    Inb4 CCP-sponsored espionage.

  • Norman Stansfield Why are leaf springs still a thing on this truck?
  • Syke The expected opening comments. Have had mine for two years now, the car has done exactly what I want out of it, and a little better. I'm quite happy with the car, haven't had to adjust my driving style or needs in the slightest, and . . . . oh, did a mention that I don't give a damn what today's price at the pump is?Probably going to go for a second one in the coming year, the wife's happy enough with mine that she's ready and willing to trade in the Nissan Kicks. Eventually, the not often used van will end up getting traded on a Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid, basically ensuring that we don't use gas for anything except the occasional long trip.And the motorcycles.
  • Bobbysirhan I've never found the Allegro appealing before, but a few years of EV rollouts make it seem downright desirable.
  • Scoutdude I know that dealership. Way back when my friend's grandfather was that Turner that owned the Chrysler Plymouth International dealer, in MacPherson. Of course the International was dropped when they didn't deem the Scout reason enough to keep the franchise. I moved from there in late 1978 so it is possible I saw this running around town way back when.
  • Lou_BC "Overpriced" is a misnomer. Arguably, if they are selling they are not overpriced. "Dealer mark-up above MSRP" is a mouthful but more accurate. Simple, don 't buy anything marked up. A computer will help you search the country. It's a PITA but doable.