Li Xiang was making 10 times more money than his parents from part-time tasks when he left school in 1999 to focus on a website before launching Autohome Inc., China’s premier car-buying portal. Now, he prepares to not simply offer vehicles, but also design and construct them too.
Chehejia, or “Car and Home,” has actually raised 2.5 billion yuan ($380 million) in venture-capital funding from the period Li began the Beijing-based electric-vehicle business in July. A self-admitted petrolhead who’s been compared to Telsa Motors Inc. co-founder Elon Musk, the 34-year-old goals to begin offering a commuter vehicle that can be recharged as easily as a mobile phone before the start of 2018.
A life-size plaster and wood prototype on show in Chehejia’s research center reveals Li’s development. He’s already a latecomer in a market increasingly crowded with startups seeking to tap new innovations to construct electrical, auto-driven and digitally linked automobiles. Li desires Chehejia to differentiate itself with two designs that rely less on public charging facilities and guarantee to satisfy 90 percent of the requirements of commuters having a hard time with traffic snarls and a shortage of parking area.