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China needs brand new smart vehicles

Allen Zhengyu Lv, former president of Infiniti China, joined Leshi Super Electric Car Co. as vice president late last year. In an interview with Zhongguo Qiche 30 Ren Zhiku (China Auto Think Tank 30) reporters He Fang and Fan Wenqing, Lv explained what drove him to join the LeTV Group, an internet company, in building a brand new smart automobile. The following are highlights of the interview. – Editor

 

When asked why he joined Leshi Super Electric Car Co., Lv said he felt the traditional automotive industry would be stagnant soon, and at this stage of his career, he wanted to do something he is passionate about and also good for society.

According to Lv, Leshi Super Car is not trying to compete with Tesla in vehicle performance. Instead, its smart electric car will mainly act as a platform for Leshi’s contents and applications. This business model in turn enables Leshi to sell their cars at a low price, as profits can be compensated by selling on-car contents and services. In particular, Lv mentioned online shopping and an advertising model that drivers have to pay to turn the commercials off.

Lv believes Leshi has three advantages in its electric car business over other IT companies. First, Leshi founder Jia Yueting emphasizes on a product ecosystem and business model that is “smart” and “connected” instead of “car.” This is forward thinking. Jia himself is an excellent product engineer. Second, Leshi Super Electric Car will inherit advantages of an internet business from its parent company. Third, Leshi Super Electric Car is determined to build a top company with international influence and its own intellectual properties. It has gathered a team of top talents in the fields including silicon-valley engineers. Furthermore, Leshi’s biggest advantage over traditional OEMs is that it is not constrained by any traditional thinking or rules to follow. It can think outside of the box, so to speak, and excel in creativity and innovation.

Lv did not disclose the timeline for its super electric car. However, he revealed that Leshi would first “develop, build and sell electric cars in the most developed country and market.” Once established, Leshi will shift focus to China and rely on the vast Chinese market and manufacturing capacity to obtain further growth.

Lv was reluctant to compare Leshi Super Electric Car to Tesla, saying that he admires and respects Tesla as a pioneer in the electric car industry. But Leshi’s electric car will have different core values. Leshi’s ultimate goal is to change people’s lifestyle towards a more environmental friendly driving experience. To achieve this target, Leshi will focus more on the mass and public transportation vehicles, different from Tesla’s choice for the performance market.

The funding for Leshi Super Electric Car comes from international sources rather than from its parent public company. The R&D will be done in house, while manufacturing will utilize cutting-edge technologies such as the Industry 4.0 concept and 3D printing, eventually evolving into outsourcing. Sales will rely more on online stores, as opposed to the traditional brick and mortar dealership network, to appeal to the young generation and reduce cost. The online business is also where its parent company prevails.

Lv said that Leshi is expecting to receive an electric car manufacturing license soon, thanks to the government’s policy to encourage non-automotive companies to enter the electric car industry. In addition to the LeUI Auto in-car operating system debuted earlier this year, “Leshi Super Electric Car’s America R&D center is basically up and running,” Lv said. “The equipment and the workforce are in place. We are in the process of building a test model.”

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