The Big Reveal
In Shanghai, on December 11th, 2017, WM Motor Technology Co. held a ceremony to reveal the first car under the new Weltmeister brand, the EX5.
The new brand plans to start taking orders in April and hopes to start deliveries of its new sports utility vehicle in the second half of 2018, as reported by Reuters.
WM Motor’s first car, the EX5 SUV, is reported to be priced below RMB 200,000 ($30,200). (Note: that’s what Reuters says, but other sources differ, indicating RMB300,000, or $45,340). It has an electric range of 600 km according to reports I have seen.
Reuters was told by Freeman Shen, WM Motor’s founder and chief executive, that the company plans to start producing the EX5 SUV at a new plant in Wenzhou during the second quarter of next year, which seems incredibly fast for a startup to build, equip, and produce a new SUV.
Freeman Shen also told Reuters that WM Motor aims to sell 100,000 cars per year and have 3 models within 3–4 years of the 2018 launch.
The style and design of the EX5 SUV seems conservative, vanilla. It avoids looking too futuristic in favour of traditional lines and look, which is not a bad thing at this price range.
Who Is WM Motor Technology Co.?
WM Motor Technology Co. is an electric car startup that is led by Freeman Shen. Shen led Geely’s acquisition of Volvo, but then left Geely to start WM Motors and has been the public face of the company since. In 2016, Bloomberg reported that WM Motors had raised $1 billion in funding. WM Motors revealed that it has now raised RMB 12 billion ($2.2 Billion) as of December 11th.
WM Motor joins the growing list of Chinese electric car startups. Although it remains to be seen if the company can deliver a real product, reports usually position WM Motor as a competitor of Tesla.
As mentioned above, the EX5 is a fully electric SUV that integrates a intelligent user experience, which is a big trend in China at the moment. While it’s been reported that the EX5 has a range of 600 km (372 miles), details on its battery pack have not been provided and we don’t know what rating system they are using. Although the range is above the Tesla Model S 100D, which is at 539 km (335 miles), it might not actually be ready for that and the company might have just selected the figure arbitrarily to compare favourably with Tesla products and create media attention.
The car is reportedly going to be fit with an intelligent interaction system that can tell the identity of the driver and give access to other authorised users such as family and friends. Every WM user will be given a account. (This service sounds familiar with concept cars from other companies, namely the iSPACE concept.)
AI & User Experience
Similarities continue, going into WM developing a multi-stage development plan for the integration of AI into its car environment. First, fully integrating it into the internet and offering real-time internet services. Second, the ability of the AI to sense the user’s requirements and provide services suitable to the user. (These two are reported to be available in the EX5 SUV.) Third, the ability to communicate with the IoT driving environment. Fourth, full self-driving capability. These abilities don’t have a date or intended model yet.
Another beautiful product reveal is over and we must wait for this startup to deliver on its promises and show if it has a real ability to create an innovative and useful product.