On the back of a glossy postcard, under a picture of a black car parked at Tivoli Village, is a gallery invitation from a North Las Vegas address to see “the first all carbon fiber electric car.”
It’s not the much-anticipated production automobile from Faraday Future.
It’s from 2050 Motors Inc. Tonight, the company will host one of two catered private showings for media and invited guests at the William Carr Gallery in Tivoli Village to unveil two cars — the e-Go and Ibis, the sedan on the postcard. The gallery will stay open to showcase the vehicle to the public on Sunday through Feb. 22.
If Faraday is a mystery, 2050 Motors is uncharted.
On the surface, Faraday and 2050 Motors are uncannily similar. Each business revolves around electric vehicles with a presence in North Las Vegas and strong ties to Chinese companies.
But the similarities end there. The Chinese-backed upstart Faraday is building a $1 billion manufacturing plant in North Las Vegas. 2050 Motors has long-term goals to assemble here but currently is based out of a commercial building near the city’s airport. Faraday is new to the state but vocal about its presence. 2050 Motors incorporated here in 2012 — years before Faraday existed — but has kept a low profile. Faraday has yet to produce a production car.
2050 Motors is unveiling its production models today, and has already released the vehicles' specifications. The company says the Ibis, built with a body made of all-carbon fiber, is cheaper than the Tesla Model S and 800 pounds lighter.
As the company pulls out from under the radar today, here's more about it:
How 2050 Motors gets its cars from China
Company officials say 2050 Motors has ambitions to break into the U.S. assembly space, but its core mission is to import, market and sell electric cars manufactured in China. Its two cars are manufactured through an exclusive license with Aoxin Automobile, which was created as a subsidiary of the Chinese state-owned automobile manufacturer, Dongfeng Motor Corp., according to its most recent quarterly filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Dongfeng helped invest and design the car. Then in 2014, Aoxin was purchased by an investment and property company founded by the municipal government of Yancheng, a city in China’s northeastern Jiangsu province. Later that year, Aoxin started construction on a 200,000 square foot manufacturing plant capable of producing 20,000 units annually, the filings said.
George Hedrick, 2050 Motors’ vice president of Nevada operations, said Aoxin had invested $100 million into the development of a manufacturing process for the car and stood to gain from the exclusive agreement with his company by establishing a foothold in the U.S. market.
The plant opened in January 2015, according to the filing. The filing said the company does not expect to have deliverable cars until 2016, but purchased prototype test models, which will be the cars on display this week at Tivoli Village.
The cars, the pricing and the technology
2050 Motors is planning to sell both the e-Go and Ibis in the U.S. market. The company expects to sell the e-Go, a passenger car that resembles a Fiat, at less than $35,000 with rebates. The Ibis will go for about $60,000, including rebates.
“Our goal is to build a safer, more efficient car for the U.S. market,” Hedrick said.
What makes each car unique, company officials say, is that the body is built from carbon fiber, which is stronger and lighter than steel. The Yancheng facility, according to the SEC filing, has “an aluminum chassis robotic welding production line and a high-temperature, high-pressure, vacuum-assisted carbon fiber molding production line.” It also said the vehicle technology has more than 20 patents in China.
Plans for the U.S. market — an assembly plant in Las Vegas?
2050 Motors might import from China, but it is headquartered in Las Vegas and plans to grow out of the market. According to the filing, the company will create a service and parts center in the valley, selling to customers in the region. It said it might also partner with local distributors.
But it has an ambitious plan. 2050 Motors, which will purchase the car bodies and frames from China, wants to construct its assembly plant in the U.S. and has already scouted some locations in Las Vegas, although it is considering options in other states and in Canada.
“Our priority is Las Vegas,” Hedrick said.
By the company’s own admission, its plans for growth would likely require it to raise additional funding. In September, the company predicted it had the financial resources to last six months, according to the filing. It also reported net losses of about $470,000 for the year ending in September.
Company officials said the financial situation would not be an issue and that they had received interest from several potential backers across the country, including in New York and Chicago.
There’s another hurdle 2050 Motors must pass. The company still needs to prove it has met the U.S. Department of Transportation's safety requirements. Although the car was built with American standards in mind, the car’s parts and equipment must be department approved. The car is also required to complete crash testing here. Once that happens, the company must start selling.
According to the filing, 2050 Motors, as a condition of keeping its exclusive license agreement with Aoxin, the Chinese manufacturer, is required to sell 92,000 cars over the next five years — 2,000 vehicles in its first year after testing, 6,000 vehicles in its second year, 12,000 vehicles in its third year, 24,000 vehicles in its fourth year and 48,000 vehicles in the fifth year.
The company said meeting the sales quotas would not be a problem, because the numbers were fairly low.