When a brand-new automotive marque pops up and says it will build four affordable electric vehicles aimed at mainstream buyers, you could be forgiven for taking the claims with a grain of salt. But perhaps don’t dismiss WM Motor so quickly…
The Chinese brand is headed by former Geely executive Freeman Shen, an enterprising businessman who told Reuters recently that he thinks his brand, WM Motor, can offer buyers a different kind of electric car. In other words, not a Tesla rival, but a more mainstream plug-in offering.
“I don’t think traditional car companies are doing well selling cars, especially with their customer experience. With smart, connected cars, I believe I can change that,” Shen said in a Reuters interview recently, before going on to suggest that buyers need a car that is part of their connected life, rather than separate to it.
“We’re not a traditional car company. We see ourselves as a service company,” he said.
Back to the cars – WM Motor boldly claims it will offer four different vehicles, all based off the same platform. The vehicles include a people mover, a sedan, a wagon and an SUV.
It seems relatively logical, given that all that needs to change is the body on top of the platform. You can see from these (albeit computer-generated) images that there is a clear familiarity in the appearance and apparent proportions of these vehicles.
Shen says that manufacturing is a serious business, but WM Motor has already commenced work on a $1 billion facility in Suzhou, while the company headquarters is based in Shanghai.
The company claims it will launch the first WM Motor vehicle in 2018, and that it will add a new vehicle to its range every 12 months through to 2025.
“Building a fancy car to impress people is actually fairly easy as long as you’re willing to spend the money,” Shen said. “The most challenging part is mass production – coming up with a car everybody can buy, with high quality but at a significantly lower cost.”
The company is said to be working on a target of 100,000 cars per year by about 2022, with China the main focus before WM Motor looks at a planned expansion to the US. Shen said the cars he oversees will not be luxury cars, but will bring “luxury-like quality to a mainstream car”.
Why wouldn’t we write WM Motor off just yet? Well, Shen was influential in the deal between Geely and Volvo being signed off a few years back. He’s clearly a bit of a doer…
For those wondering what WM means, apparently it’s derived from two words: the German term Weltmeister (world champion), and the Chinese term Weima 威马 (powerful horse).