There is a myriad of companies with their sights set on Tesla, including Silicon Valley startup Atieva, as evidenced by the grainy black and white image of its first battery electric car.
The image is from documents filed with the state of California that were discovered by Recode.net.
Formed in 2007, Atieva initially developed batteries and electric drivetrains, filing more than 100 patents and delivering battery packs for electric buses in China.
Since then, investments by Chinese state-owned carmaker BAIC and LeEco, another electric car company that has also invested in Faraday Future, appear to give the company a solid financial backing.
Atieva’s car, named Atvus, will have the same electric drivetrain as the Mercedes-Benz Vito van called Edna shown in videos earlier this summer.
The van out performed a Dodge Viper, Ferrari and a high end Tesla Model S with a 0 to 60 mpg dash of 2.74 seconds.
That performance isn’t surprising considering Atieva is headed by Peter Rawlinson, a former Tesla vice president and Model S chief engineer.
Edna’s powertrain is described as “two electric motors, two sets of power electronics, two gearboxes, one battery capable of storing 87 kilowatt-hours of energy and outputting over 900 horsepower.”
The Atvus image shows a fluid four-door sedan with a retro-futuristic look that reminds one of General Motors’ EV1 with an almost hatchback styled roof line and a partial wheel skirt on the rear wheel.
The company has said the Atvus will be revealed later this year — there’s not that much time left — and will go on sale first in the U.S. in 2018, and then extend to China.
Plans call for a U.S.-based assembly plant that would build 20,000 cars a year at first, eventually rise to 130,000 annually.
That’s an ambitious goal given that Atieva has never manufactured a complete vehicle, does not currently have an assembly plant — or even a site for one.
That leaves the possibility that the first Atvus EVs could be produced by the obscure Dayang Motorcycle company located in rural Luoyang, China, a facility designated on Atieva’s Calif. documents.
It’s too early to predict if Atieva, or any of the Chinese-backed electric car companies, will produce a Tesla challenger, but it will be interesting to watch the stories unfold.