Le Supercar Hopes to be China's Answer to Tesla
27 August 2015 - Autoblog
Remember the Renault Le Car? Well, this isn't that. One difference is that the drawings above are of the Le* Car, please note the asterisk, and it hails from China.
Another difference is that "Le" means "the" in French, but it means "happy" in Mandarin. The car will be another in the multitude of electronic products from Leshi Internet Information & Technology, run by its founder Jia Yueting, using the diminutive prefix it likes to apply to products like LeTV. LeTV is described as China's version of Netflix.
Almost year ago Yueting announced he was going after Tesla with an electric car developed in-house, and these are the first drawings. Of course, we don't know how close the final product will be to these renderings, but the company says "the design language itself is final." The company has 600 newly hired employees working on it, 200 of them in the US, led by Tony Nie. Nie held senior positions at Lotus Engineering China from 2005 until 2011. He's been on the job for a year and has scooped up employees from Tesla, BMW, and General Motors.
Last year, Yueting declined to tell Bloomberg how the Le* Car's development would be paid for. Fast Company reports that Yueting cashed out $1.2 billion of stock in his company, then loaned the money back to LeTV to do all of the work in-house, including every aspect of the powertrain. Why is LeTV leading the initiative? Because the company plans to use the vehicle as another platform for its expanding content business, the same way Amazon has come out with Kindle tablets and the Fire phone.
The Le* Car will be a luxury offering, and if all goes to plan we'll see it at the 2016 Beijing Motor Show, then on the market sometime around early 2018.