(Yicai Global) Dec. 18 -- Chinese new-energy vehicle maker NextEV Inc., which unveiled its first electric production vehicle last week, is already developing its third production car.
Designs for its second vehicle are basically at and end and the company is now working on its next model, Zhang Hui, general manager of NextEV's German division, told Yicai Global in an exclusive interview at the Munich Global Design Center on Dec. 13. Each car takes about three years to design, compared with traditional factories which take about four to five years, he added.
The Shanghai-based firm will display its second car, the ES6, at the Beijing Auto Show next year. It unveiled its first self-developed production car, the ES8, on Dec. 16, and plans to begin mass production to start selling vehicles in March. It will create a first batch of around 10,000 units and plans to unveil a new model each year from 2018 through 2022. NextEV has outsourced its production to Anhui Jianghuai Automobile Co. [SHA:600418] and hopes to make 100,000 vehicles during its first phase.
"We may look into other production modes, but at the moment we're just using original equipment manufacturers," Zhang said. "We haven't announced the price of the ES8 yet, but already have over a thousand orders. We'll be delivering the first car early next year."
On plans to go public, he said it takes a lot of cash to build cars, so the company is sure to list, though it doesn't have any concrete plans yet. NextEV plans to move into Europe within the next three years, but doesn't yet have a production plan in place. It would cost at least EUR100 million (USD118 million) to develop a new car for such international markets as Europe or the US, Zhang added.
As well as a global design center in Germany, the carmaker has bases in Silicon Valley for operations, autonomous driving and software research. The firm is rumored to be selling part of its US operations center for between USD300 million and USD400 million, but co-founder Zheng Xiancong said this isn't true.
NextEV designs high-performance smart electric vehicles. It is based in Shanghai but has offices in Europe and the US. It registered its Munich branch in June 2015 with 15 employees, but has almost 10 times as many in the city now. As of October, the company had invested more than EUR80 million in Germany, making it the largest Chinese startup in the country. It expects to further double employee numbers by 2020.
Germany was the second-biggest European market for plug-in vehicles in the nine months through September, according to electric vehicle researcher EV Volumes. A number of other countries in Europe also posted strong growth, more than doubling sales figures.