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Chinese EV Maker Throws $1.8B Gauntlet To Tesla

Chinese electric vehicle maker LeEco has announced plans to build a large electric car factory worth US$1.8 billion in eastern China. The factory, when it reaches full capacity, will be able to produce 400,000 cars annually.

The factory’s construction is part of a larger project called Eco Experience Park, which will cost around US$3 billion and will include, besides the factory, an amusement park, offices and other corporate facilities. No deadline for the construction of the factory was announced, however.

LeEco is one of the brand new challengers of Tesla in the EV field. The company, which started as a software firm and is now particularly big in smartphones, set up by billionaire investor Jia Yueting, earlier this year released the LeSee, its self-driving concept that, the company says, can reach speeds of 130 mph.

The LeSee, which will most likely be manufactured in the new plant, features a steering wheel that can fold into the dashboard, external displays, and individual passenger pods. LeEco has kept mum on the price of the car, and any details on the technology used in the design.

While at the time some observers took the concept car as nothing more than a concept, this latest factory announcement is a clear indication that LeEco is taking electric vehicles seriously.

Besides its independent plans, LeEco is also among the funding partners of two other Tesla challengers, based on its home turf. Atieva, one of the companies, recently said it was working on its first luxury sedan, which is scheduled to hit markets by 2018. The other, Faraday Future, is building a plant in Nevada, to manufacture its FFZero1.

Earlier, in February, LeEco also partnered with Aston Martin for the commercialization of Aston Martin’s electric car RapidE. The partnership also envisages a possible expansion into more electric cars, to be produced on behalf not just of Aston Martin, but also of LeEco itself and Faraday Future.

By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

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