A new luxury electric vehicle maker is emerging to follow in the footsteps of Tesla in the country that is proving to be the strongest electric car market in the world – China.
The brand, known as GYON, launched on Wednesday night in Los Angeles, and though the name apparently stands for ‘Grow Your Own Niche’, the brand is brandishing several hallmarks similar to that of the leading EV brand Tesla.
So much so they’ve even roped in prestigious luxury car designers Gaffoglio Family Metalcrafters Inc. (GFMI), as co-founder and president Joe Chao announced, with a view to unveiling a high-end concept car by the end of 2019.
Gaffoglio, based in California, have previously been involved in lightweight sports car designs for Ford Racing as well as for Don Schumacher under both the Mopar and Ford Racing banners.
Readers may remember that Tesla’s first model, the Roadster was built on car bodies made by British sports car brand Lotus.
“We are proud to be part of the creation of this incredible concept car,” GFMI Chairman George Gaffoglio told Automotive News.
Indeed, if the image unveiled by GYON in a pre-launch press release is anything to go by, the concept will be along the same lines as the Lotus body – sleek, aerodynamic and sporty.
GYON also revealed they won’t be limiting themselves to luxury sports EVs, and that their slogan – ‘Right is Our Niche’ – is indicative of their mission to explore other opportunities in the burgeoning high-end Chinese EV market.
“We want our customers to feel happy and satisfied,” said Chao in the press release, which states that GYON will also be developing EVs in the sedan, SUV and crossover segments and intend to bring to market nine models to China over the next 8 years.
The first of those will sell in the mini and small car segments, priced from 100,000 yuan renminbi to 200,000 yuan renminbi (around $AUD20,000-40,000), said Chao.
The fledgling Chinese EV brand have already started developing their own operating system for their EV models, the G-OS (GYON Operating System), which they say will use a ‘data-based logic to mimic human cognitive capability’.
Although there’s not yet any mention of self-driving abilities, the indirect reference to AI suggests this might also be on the cards.
Even better than that though – the brand says that they will pack their EVs with a battery that can charge to 80% in 10 minutes and 100% in 15, and boasts an incredible range of 580-600km.
This super battery is not yet in production, but if they can pull it off the GYON battery will top the 540km range on offer from Tesla Model S by about 40km.
All well and good, but where are they going to build these EVs – and can they do it?
Though the EV market in China is really heating up, Bloomberg cites only 1% of EV startups in the country actually carrying on to success.
With GM and VW EVs already selling in China, and Tesla already well into the build of their own factory in Shanghai, GYON will also have to contend with some serious competition in the luxury EV market.
GYON intend to set up in the capital of the southwestern Sichuan province, Chengdu, and say they have the full support of the Chinese government to do so, as well as local government investment.
However they are still raising capital, and currently only have enough funds to get things rolling.
Chao, although late to EV manufacturer, is also an executive at China’s Sitech Auto, and previously oversaw DaimlerChrysler’s arm in China as CEO which included manufacture of the Mercedes-Benz E-class and C-class.
He was joined by former Chrysler boss Tom LaSorde at the launch, and says he doesn’t think the competition will matter.
“The China market is still on the rise, especially for new-energy vehicles,” Chao told Automotive News.
GYON also have plans to reach the international stage. Chao has been contacted for comment and we will keep you posted if and when that comes in.
Note: This article has been updated to link information in regard to the original Tesla Roadster.
Bridie Schmidt is lead reporter for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She specialises in writing about new technology and has been writing about electric vehicles for two years. She has a keen interest in the role that zero emissions transport has to play in sustainability and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum.