NextEV held a gala grand opening event for its new Silicon Valley office this week. The new office will house hundreds of engineers and developers who are working on software, artificial intelligence, and machine learning for vehicles. Already, 250 people work out of the San Jose office and another few hundred are supposed to be hired. The company also has offices in Shanghai, Beijing, Hong Kong, London, and Munich.
NextEV was founded by William Li, who says starting an electric car company was his response to air pollution in Beijing. He wants his children to grow up in a pollution free world and is doing what he can to make that dream a reality. NextEV plans to manufacture a range of electric and autonomous vehicles that will be offered first to customers in China and later to the rest of the world.
Recently Li recruited former Cisco chief technology officer and tech superstar Padmasree Warrior to be in charge of US operations. Warrior says the company’s mission is “to change transportation.” If that is the case, it is in good company. Tesla Motors, Atieva, Wanxiang, LeEco, and Faraday Future are all nearby. At the grand opening in Silicon Valley, a host of city and state officials were on hand to explain why NextEV was able to receive various forms of government support. Mostly, all that government largess is designed to promote the growing clean energy company ecosystem in the region.
Missing from the event were any cars. However, a Chinese website just published some photos of NextEV’s “supercar.” Looking very much like the absurd FFZero1 prototype that Faraday Future brought to the CES show in Las Vegas last January, the car is said to be testing on race tracks in Europe.
Everyone wants to have a high performance “halo car.” Chevrolet has made the Corvette its halo car for more than 60 years. But first it helps to have some ordinary cars for the halo car to promote. Faraday Future and now NextEV seem to have the process backwards. Perhaps someday they will make a car ordinary mortals can drive.