Mullen Technologies, a Southern California based electric vehicle manufacturer, will take an existing electric sports car — the Qiantu K50 from China — and redesign it in the United States. The car, which will debut this week at the 2019 New York Auto Show, is projected to be available in 2020. Subsequently, Mullen will restructure the K50 in California.
“We wanted something high end,” Frank McMahon, Mullen’s CTO and chief engineer, told Digital Trends. Following in the footsteps of Tesla, the company wants to begin with a luxury, low-volume model to create momentum. They will then design a mass market vehicle. By taking an existing car, they will save money. The futuristic-looking K50 is also a good way to attract consumer attention.
The Qiantu K50 features carbon fiber bodywork over an aluminum chassis, allowing the car to save an estimated 40 pounds over steel, and 20 pounds over aluminum bodywork, according to Mullen. The car, which may be mistaken for a McLaren 570S or Acura NSX, is looking to draw sportscar enthusiasts.
The all-wheel-drive K50 is powered by two electric motors, which produce 402 horsepower, pushing the vehicle from zero to 60 mph in “under 4.2 seconds,” according to Mullen. The current version of the K50 has 230 miles of range, but Mullen hopes to achieve up to 310 miles “with a uniform speed.”
Qiantu, meaning "future" in Chinese, is a division of CH-Auto. Meanwhile, Mullen owns several dealerships and CarHub, a digital car-sales platform. Though Mullen has experimented with electric cars before, namely Coda Automotive, which attempted to market an electric car based on a Chinese-market small sedan, the venture was short-lived, and the company declared bankruptcy.
Now, Mullen will “homologate and assemble” the K50 for the North American market, McMahon said. Although certain changes are necessary to meet US regulations, the automaker expects the final product to closely resemble the current Chinese model. The company is still looking at North American locations for a factory, and production is not expected to exceed 650 cars per year. The estimated price point will be between $100,000 and $150,000.
After launching the K50, the company will develop a “midrange” model, though for now, the focus is on succeeding with the K50 before committing to additional projects.