China's NextEV gunning for Tesla, promises 1,000-hp supercar by 2016


NextEV Formula E season one race car

NextEV Formula E season one race car

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Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA] didn't invent the electric car.

But the California startup was the first to successfully pitch EVs as luxury status symbols, and that marketing breakthrough has left the company with a target on its back.

Mercedes-Benz recently confirmed a Tesla competitor will be coming "soon," Apple's recent hiring spree leaves little doubt an "iCar" is in development, and Chinese tech firm Letv, which has close links to Aston Martin and Lotus, is aiming to produce an electric supercarAnd now Reuters is reporting that investors are solidifying behind another China-based firm with Tesla in its sites.

Already with a successful team in the Formula E Championship electric car racing series, NextEV plans to release a full range of electric road cars after the debut of a supercar sometime next year.

The company has procured talent from some automotive heavyweights—including the Ford Motor Company [NYSE:F], Italdesign Giugiaro, BMW, Volkswagen—as well as at least one former member of the Tesla team. Funding specifics are somewhat murkier, but Uber investor Hillhouse Capital has joined the "deep-pocketed China-based internet entrepreneurs" and holding company Tencent in the venture.

As you'd expect, NextEV's announcements about its forthcoming electric supercar's capabilities are spectacular.

The as-yet-unnamed green machine will be capable of zero to 60 in no more than three seconds and boast 1,000 horsepower, specs which compare with current flagship supercars like Ferrari's LaFerrari and McLaren's P1. But even with the relative simplicity of electric vehicle drivetrains, delivering that level of performance is hardly going to be easy. And 2016 is just around the corner.

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