What would your ambitions be after starting and leaving a successful scooter business? For Yinan Li, founder of NIU, the solution is to found an automobile company. This is precisely what the Chinese entrepreneur announced with NIUTRON, an electric vehicle startup that plans to unveil its first vehicle in the first half of 2022.
While it might seem early enough for a newly announced business, it really isn’t. Li started NIUTRON shortly after leaving NIU in 2018. During these three years of work, the company has grown to a team of 1000 people only in its R&D (research and development) department. These guys and girls developed the company’s own platform, called Gemini.
NIUTRON’s first product will be a medium-large SUV called NV. It will come in two flavors: VEB (battery electric vehicle) and EREV (extended range electric vehicle), which some would prefer to call PHEV (plug-in hybrid electric vehicle). However, calling it EREV means that the vehicle will only be powered by electric motors, not the combustion engine which will take it further than if it only had a battery pack. Deliveries are expected to start in September 2022.
Li did not disclose the range or any clues about the new NIUTRON cars. He only said that the company would be based in the same city where NIU produces its scooters: Changzhou. The plant is already under construction on 770,000 square meters (190.3 acres) of land and is expected to be ready by March 2022. Production capacity will be 180,000 cars per year, with likely some margin for expansion.
This should be the case if the company’s ambitions are realized. NIUTRON has stated that it will be “one of the most valuable electric car startups after NIO, Xpeng and Li Auto. Such a bold statement will require bold proof that she has what it takes to be a part of these other societies. NIUTRON NV is now responsible for responding.