8 Electric Car Startups to Start Watching

Go ahead and call it a comeback. After a poor showing in the first half of the decade, electric car startups are finally starting to rev up, with promising new announcements in 2016, followed by a boatload of investments to carry them into the current year. Total funding to private electric vehicle (EV) companies surged from under $200 million in 2013 to over $2 billion in 2016, with many investors looking to grab a piece of the surging, seemingly inevitable, electric vehicle take-over.

We recently talked about how many electric cars there actually are on the streets of good old ‘Murica and it turns out there aren’t that many. Nonetheless, the year-on-year growth of electric car adoption continues and companies like Chargepoint are building a nation-wide network that can accommodate any electric car you’re driving. Up until now, that electric car is likely to be a Tesla or an electric vehicle from one of the many major auto manufacturers that are also offering electric automobiles now. What we wanted to know was are there any electric cars being developed by startups? As it turns out, we found at least 8 electric car startups (we excluded any sort of multi-passenger vehicles that we would classify as buses). If you want a front-seat view of the vehicles changing the face of the road, keep an eye on the following 8 electric car startups.

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Founded in 2015, Shanghai-based Weltmeister has already taken in $1 Billion in funding to build electric cars. The Chinese company went with zee German word for “World Champion” as it’s name, showing no modesty in their ambitions. Welmeister's carsThe impressive funding comes mostly through the Zhejiang Geely Holding Group, and a little background may explain why the company is currently swimming in cash: Weltmeister is spearheaded by Freeman Shen, who worked for Geely as a Volvo exec before branching out to start WM Motor. The company aims to build its first vehicle in 2018, with as many as 100,000 to follow by 2021. Weltmeister wants to “Change the Way You Move” with an electric vehicle that isn’t a bus, isn’t slow, but IS a well-designed, 100% electric vehicle aimed at the mainstream market.

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Founded in 2014, another Chinese company, NextEV, has taken in $500 Million to develop its own flashy brand of electric cars. According to NextEV, “Electric vehicles with smart technology and connectivity are the future — but there’s an even more fundamental shift to be made.” NextEV’s goal is to appeal to the emotions of car owners, clearing their minds of the aggravation of maintenance, and the guilt of pollution.

The world’s fastest electric car
The world’s fastest electric car

NextEV plans to re-define the experience of owning a car by providing stress-free maintenance and unprecedented performance. Last November, NextEV revealed the EP9, a super racing car that is said to be the world’s fastest electric car. Nerd out on this a bit:

  • 1,360 horses
  • 1 Megawatt of power at the wheels
  • 3.3 Gs of force slamming you into your seat
  • 24,000N of downforce, twice that of a Formula 1 job
  • 7:05.120 at NÜRBURGRING (EV lap record)
  • 194 miles an hour peak speed
  • 0 – 124 mph in 7.1 seconds

Fcuk yes. Do yourself a favor and take 10 minutes away from that boring ass office job and spend some time scrolling through maybe one the best electric vehicle websites you’ve ever seen. Here’s a shot of the cockpit where a wearable device measures your stress levels as you rocket that thing around corners like a maniac:

The cockpit of a very cool electric car


Try not to drool all over your keyboard. Recent rumors have it that Chinese Internet firm Baidu plans to pitch in $100 Million to the global startup.

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Founded in 2016, Shenzhen-based Future Mobility hasn’t yet disclosed their funding amount, but has pledged to distribute premium electric cars worldwide by 2020. Future Mobility was created to “reshape the future of mobility in the 21st century” by releasing autonomous, electric vehicles that will overtake the roads within a few years. Future Mobility has already managed to poach several EV leadership members from BMW and Tesla to add to its development team. The electric vehicle startup is backed, among others, by Tencent Holdings, an internet and entertainment tech investment holding company in China.

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Founded in 2014, California-based startup Faraday Future was a company that we wrote about before headed by ex-Tesla employees. They continue to make headlines lately as a rising Tesla competitor, though lately there have been lots of speculation that the startup is cash strapped and unable to pay their bills. Like NextEV, Faraday Future believes there needs to be a fundamental shift in the way we relate to our cars–we’re dealing with energy constraints, demanding lifestyles, and urban crowding, and our cars need to keep up. One of Faraday Future's carsFaraday recently entered the FF91, a sleek, sporty EV, in the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb in June, where it hopes to make a big splash during its public debut. They hope the climb will “further facilitate the internal engineering development” of the car before it goes into production in 2018.

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Founded in 2017, another Californian company, Lucid Motors, has taken in $131 Million to produce a “game-changing” contribution to the EV market. Formerly known as Atieva, Lucid Motors is working to rebrand and reimagine what a luxury electric car could be with top-tier software and structural integrity. One of Lucid Motors's carsThe Lucid Air, described by The Drive as “Simple, clean, perfect,” is currently on pre-order, and claims that the transmission is smaller, more efficient, and more power-dense than competitors. Other specs include a 1,000 horsepower battery with a 400 mile range, self-adjusting headlights, and an open and optimized cabin space. The Lucid Air sedan, will have a starting price of $52,500 after federal tax credits. Customers can place a $2,500 deposit to reserve a car. Reserve yours today.

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Founded in 2016, Swedish startup, Uniti, has taken in $1.42 Million to develop an electric city car with a futuristic user experience. Uniti believes that the automotive industry is more destructive than it needs to be, and wants to provide a clean, holistic alternative to traditional driving. Uniti’s simplified, modular vehicle platform uses sustainable composite materials and processes, starting with the EU L7e, an innovative two-seater city-car with a prototype due at the end of this year. “The Swedish electric car that is coming to save the world” actually got off the ground through a crowdfunding campaign and minimal advertising, and now aims to be the solution for the modern city commuter. Working alongside Siemens, the startup hopes to unveil their electric cars in late 2017, with first deliveries scheduled for early 2019. The first high-end vehicle has a target price of $22,285.

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Founded in 2009, the small Swiss design company, Classic Factory, has now introduced Elextra Cars, featuring the next supercar that aims to take out the Tesla Model S. Classic Factory claims that the Elextra, a four-door, four-wheel sedan, will be able to rocket from 0-62 in less than 2.3 seconds, using the highest level of engineering and craftsmanship available.One of Elextra Cars Classic Factory turned to Germany to hand-build the Swiss-designed cars on a very exclusive basis: the production will be limited to 100 very exciting units. An Elextra prototype will debut at Geneva later this year.

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Founded in 2011, Croatian-based company Rimac Automobil is on a quest to discover new ways to make electric cars faster, and more fun. Rimac is focused on a pure, light build with seamless power, driving the electric car revolution by “meticulously crafting art.” One of Rimac Automobil's carsRimac will also debut the Concept_One in Geneva, their supercar with 1224 horsepower and a top speed of 220 mph. Rimac Auto boasts that their car (and not Tesla Motors’) will unleash the full potential of Nikola Tesla’s alternating current electric motor.

If we’ve taken anything away from this article, it’s that electric vehicles are now going head to head with some of the highest performing petrol powered cars on the road today. Just look at the Nurburgring track records:

Nurburgring Track Records

Both electric motor technology and autonomy software have been thrown into sharp relief in front of a background of automotive developments. Barring huge and unforeseen failure, EVs are unlikely to experience a slump like the one that opened up the current decade, but should give us quite a show as more new models hit the road in the next couple of years.

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