Alibaba and SAIC’s IM Motors Gears Up To Launch Its First Electric Vehicle

IM Motors (Zhiji Motors), a joint venture of Alibaba Group Holding and SAIC Motor, has announced that production is underway of its debut electric vehicle, with sales starting later this month.

Credit: IM Motors

The new smart sedan, dubbed the IM L7, features panoramic-viewing and continuous-driving functions, a customised driver’s seat, 5G network connectivity and an intelligent driving system powered by NVIDIA’s Drive Hyperion platform, as Alizila reports. It also features more than 40 modules that allow updates to be downloaded over-the-air (OTA) for systems. IM Motors said that it plans to update the vehicle's firmware every three months.


Early production units additionally ship with 12 high-definition cameras to help drivers in navigation and to enable automatic parking.


Buyers also have the option to upgrade the standard 93kWh silicon-doped, lithium-ion cell to a higher-end 115kWh cell if they want to.


The IM L7 was first shown off at the Auto Shanghai car show last year. The vehicle is now in mass production in SAIC’s factory in Southeastern Shanghai. It will go on sale on March 29 for 408,800 yuan, with deliveries slated for April.


IM Motors is a relative newcomer in China’s burgeoning yet crowded electric vehicle market. It was established in 2020 with a 7.2 billion yuan private equity fund. SAIC is currently the majority shareholder, owning 54% of the venture’s shares, while Alibaba and Zhangjiang Hi-tech hold 18% each. The remaining 10% is reserved for employees and customers who provide research data.


Alizila adds that electric vehicle sales in China could grow up to 84% on the year to 5.5 million units in 2022, citing a forecast from the China Passenger Car Association.


That said, the IM L7 is not guaranteed financial success, given the number of competing brands occupying the world’s second-largest economy. These include the likes of Tesla, Xpeng, Nio and Li Auto, among others. Not to mention electronics giants like Huawei and Xiaomi have also ventured into electronic vehicles and self-driving technologies.

Sony CEO Yoshida with Honda counterpart Toshihiro Mibe. Credit: Reuters

There are also other foreign automakers that could make the market even more crowded than it already is. According to Nikkei Asia, Sony and Honda recently announced that they’re joining forces to manufacture electric vehicles. While the new company that will come out of this partnership has yet to be set up, the two are said to be already planning to bring their respective technical expertise into the table, targeting to roll out a product by 2025.


Apple also remains in the picture, with rumours persisting that it has an electric vehicle in the works.

 
  • Alibaba- and SAIC Motor-backed IM Motors has announced that production is underway of its debut electric vehicle.

  • The Chinese automakers' smart sedan, the IM L7, is slated to hit stores on March 29 for 408,800 yuan, with deliveries starting in April.

  • IM Motors is a relative newcomer in China's burgeoning yet crowded electronic vehicle market, having only been around for about two years.

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