Chinese tech giant LeEco on Monday announced that it had landed USD one billion for its electric vehicle unit, LeSEE super EV. The company aims to put its smart EV into mass production within three years.
“USD 1.08 billion is a global record of funds raised by an automobile maker in the first round of financing. LeSEE will move on towards a worldwide transportation-sharing ecosystem which is internetized, intelligent and electrified,” said Jia Yueting, founder and CEO of LeEco, in Beijing on Monday.
According to Jia, there were both state-owned and private investment companies who took part in LeSEE’s first round of financing. They included the State Grid Yingda Group; Shenzhen Capital Group, the investment company of the Shenzhen government; and Legend Holdings.
LeEco announced its smart EV plan in December 2014. The company has poached a number of big names from traditional automobile makers, including from SAIC Motor, SAIC Volkswagen and Infiniti China, as well as poaching a former leader of Baidu’s autonomous driving project.
The company has set up its headquarters in America for the R&D of its smart EV. It has also been working with American smart EV maker Faraday Future since January.
The company came up with its first concept EV with self-driving in April. It compared its LeSEE super EV to Tesla’s Model series of EVs. It built a manufacturing factory in the southeastern Chinese city of Hangzhou in August, which LeEco claims will be able to make 400,000 finished LeSEE super EVs per year.
Jia told the media on Monday that LeEco is be able to put its smart EV into mass production within three years.
Despite LeEco’s ambition, the safety of autonomous driving has been questioned since Tesla’s fatal car crash in Florida, a crash that happened when the EV’s autopilot mode was on.
Only recently, Chinese media such as NetEase exposed a Tesla Model S crash in China which caused the death of its driver. A Tesla Model S ran into a road sweeper without braking or dodging on a highway about 400 kilometers south of Beijing, in late January. It is still not clear whether the Model S was in autopilot mode when the crash happened.
(Top photo from LeEco.)