By on December 18, 2018

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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22 Comments on “China’s Qiantu Motor to Manufacture EVs in North America With Domestic Partner...”

  • avatar

    “Simon Lei, Qiantu’s Head of Product Planning”

    When a Chinese has a Western first name flags go up for me. I assume they’re 2nd gen immigrants who think they’re familiar enough with Western business culture to run high-buck scams.

  • avatar

    I like it.

    The only real problem I have with it is that it’s an EV, and while that doesn’t bother me on a fundamental level, one of my major theoretical “I’ve got extra cash now!” use cases for a nice sports / grand touring car is that I can road trip to races with it – and I can’t do that with an EV. Even a Tesla would add two hours to a bunch of my five-hour race jaunts, along with limiting me to 55mph for big chunks of them. The range, recharge, and infrastructure just isn’t there yet.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Not sure why the range is quoted using the outdated NEDC test, instead of the WLTP test, or better yet, the EPA test.

    If the range is truly 228 NEDC, then the EPA equivalent might be around 165 miles – not good by today’s standards – and that means it has a battery about the same as a Chevy Bolt’s (maybe 60 kWh). Think of a base 2012 Tesla Model S.

    Nice-looking car here, but not competitive.

    • 0 avatar

      I’m of two minds on this, though. If you’re going to road trip, then the lack of fast charging infrastructure is a deal-killer even with 300 miles of range. And if you’re not, then 150 miles in a car that’s probably going to be used to go out on the town or visit nearby friends is probably more than enough. I agree that the optics aren’t great, but under what actual use case will this car be acceptable with 300 miles but not with 150?

      • 0 avatar
        SCE to AUX

        You are correct, and there is no ‘one size fits all’ EV.

        I’m referring to the value proposition on paper, in which this car’s specs are similar to a 12 Model S, but selling for $100k+. Since car buying is often irrational, and/or based on different metrics among buyers, it may be perfect for someone who wants something unique.

        Personally, I recently spent small money on an Ioniq EV, rather than bigger money on a Model 3. The Model 3 is the better value, but it would not be easier on my wallet.

        • 0 avatar

          Ioniq will probably be easier to live with though; the interior looks way more ergonomic than Tesla’s “Everything on the screen” approach.

          • 0 avatar
            SCE to AUX

            Believe me, it is.

            I had an xB1 for 7 years – with the center-mounted speedo & gauges – but they were not hard to get used to because they were up by the windshield, and the car had normal controls.

            The Model 3 screen is next to your hand, and demands distracted driving for some functions. While I remain a fan of the car, it’s too bad Tesla (Musk) insist that different is always better. I also didn’t like the outside door handles.

            The Ioniq has a little style without saying ‘look at me’ (either via the features, appearance, or badge), and I’m good with that.

    • 0 avatar
      George B

      SCE to AUX, the K50 is supposed to be a sports car where a smaller battery and less mass probably makes the car better. Saying that the K50 isn’t competitive with the Chevy Bolt due to range is like saying the Chevrolet Corvette isn’t competitive with the Dodge Journey because the Journey can carry more passengers and has more cargo space.

  • avatar
    Felix Hoenikker

    I’d like to add a data point. Just a few hours ago I had a test drive in my ex coworkers Tesla Model 3. It is one of the high spec models and had an MSRP of $56K. With the $7500 Federal income tax credit and the $3500 NJ tax rebate, it ended up costing about $50K delivered. It has a 300 mile range and can recharge at home on a 240 volt, 30 amp line at 30 miles of range per hour and faster on a supercharger. Also, acceleration is fantastic.
    So this is what any Chinese automaker must under price (by a lot) to sell here.

    • 0 avatar

      @Felix, chill for a minute. I’m glad you had a fantastic ride in your former co-worker’s Model 3. I hear it is awesome.

      Excellent data point. Your co-worker will be waiting for a couple of months for the combined $11k tax credit, I hope he has the income to accept all of it. From your post, I’m assuming that he got a free home charger, correct?

      So your bro bought a $50k car (with tax credits) and you’re loving it. Are you next to sign up? This is just another example of a Chinese EV on it’s way to the US. I’m guessing that it won’t be the last one.

      Kinda sounds like you prefer the Tesla models, all of which are readily available today. Check their website, I’ll send you some pictures of the holding lot we have out here in TN, and plunk down the change. They are ready to hook you up. They just gifted you 6 months of free SuperCharging if you buy in the next week. Everything is on sale, loaner Model S/X, you name it, they have it in stock.

      Every model is available, if you’d like me to send you a picture of the holding lot near me, maybe you can pick your color out.

    • 0 avatar

      The Model 3 is a dork – ugly. This car will retain its value because of its attractive looks. The Model 3 no longer has a $7500 tax credit, which this car will have, and with a 78kWhr battery versus the Model 3’s 75kWhr battery for their long range version, and its 4,000 weight versus the lower weight of the K50 and the K50’s superior aero, the K50 should have a driving range as great as the Tesla Model 3 long range. Who in the world would want to be seen in a Model 3 sedan with its ridiculous center dash screen rather than the K50. Nobody gives Teslas a second look these days. They are technologically inferior to the recent competition from Jaguar and Audi and Hyndai and Porsche (and now BMW).

    • 0 avatar
      Felix Hoenikker

      You confuse my positive impression of the Model 3’s performance with my desire to buy one. There is probably not a long enough crow bar in the world to get me to part with $50K for a depreciating asset. The most expensive new car I ever bought was $25K. Allowing for inflation would bring me up to $30K for my next new car purchase so it won’t be a new Tesla, Audi, Porsche, etc.

      • 0 avatar
        R Henry

        You sir, live in my world. Regardless of how much money I have, spending so much of it for a depreciating bauble is beyond my ability to imagine. ….must be my conservative Lutheran upbringing….

      • 0 avatar

        @Felix, understood. My son is driving my last overpriced depreciating car (Lexus) for college and that was my very last desire to buy a sinking asset. As you can tell by my name, I gave him that and paid cash for nice little Civic EX with leather. It’s fun enough for me to drive, has enough pep, and when I drive up to visit him, I’m always amazed that I get like 43 MPG. Not that it matters so much with cheap gas, but I quietly pat myself on the back when I see that and know that I have kicked the habit.

  • avatar
    R Henry

    I can imagine Honda will claim IP infringement for the front end styling while Bughatti has a case for that Veyron C-pillar and rear quarter.

  • avatar

    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.

  • avatar

    Inb4 CCP-sponsored espionage.

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