An electric car company named Atieva is expected to unveil its first EV in December. The company revealed its manufacturing plans and an image of its “Atvus” sedan in publicly filed documents (posted on Document Cloud) recently obtained by tech site Recode. Atieva is based in Silicon Valley, but reportedly has financial ties with a number of prominent Chinese investors including billionaire Jia Yueting of LeEco and Faraday Future.
Atieva has been testing its electric powertrain in a prototype based on a Mercedes-Benz Vito van (named “Edna”). This past summer, the company uploaded three YouTube videos showcasing its Edna prototype in drag races against a number of fast straight-line rockets like the Dodge Viper, Nissan GT-R, and the Tesla Model S. The results were impressive. Back in July, Edna ran a 0-60 mph time of 3.1 seconds. Atieva cut that time down to 2.9 seconds in August, and just a few weeks ago Edna ran to 60 mph in just 2.7 seconds, nipping at the heels of the Tesla Model S P100D (claimed 0-60 mph time of 2.5 seconds). Details on the Atvus powertrain are still slim, but Reuters reports the all-wheel-drive sedan puts out close to 900 hp.
Atieva’s roster of talent includes chief technology officer Peter Rawlinson, who previously led the engineering team for the Tesla Model S. Meanwhile, Derek Jenkins is the startup’s Vice President of Design, a role he took after leaving Mazda last year.
Atieva’s leadership, however, has been rocky. The company was founded in 2007 by Bernard Tse (a former Tesla VP) and Sam Weng, a former Oracle executive. Tse left the company in 2015 after a disagreement with an investor regarding the company’s direction.
Details on company investors are murky. According to The Guardian, Jia may have a sizable stake in Atieva, which has left many within the company worried about his intentions. Rumors suggest Jia may merge Atieva and Faraday. While speaking with The Guardian, former Atieva VP Martin Eberhard (a Tesla co-founder) said he “left Atieva because that’s not my kind of company. It’s being run like an old-school Hong Kong company which is not my take.”
Atieva claims the Atvus will be ready to go on sale in the U.S. by 2018 and should eventually reach an annual production output of 130,000 units. It’s an ambitious goal considering the company is still searching for a manufacturing site in the U.S. Should it reach its target, the Atieva will not only have to contend with Tesla, but with the German automakers planning to launch fast and luxurious EVs of their own.