WM Motor wants to be the Ford of electric cars in China

Key Points
  • WM Motor CFO Ran Zhang said the Chinese start-up aims to do for electric vehicles what Henry Ford did years ago for the mass production of automobiles

Chinese electric car start-up WM Motor may be up against a crowded playing field filled with more established players, but the company has big ambitions.

"Our job is to produce mass, affordable, easy-to-use electric vehicles for the millions of households in China, just like what Henry Ford did a hundred years ago [or] like Bill Gates did [almost] 50 years ago for personal computers," WM Motor CFO Ran Zhang told CNBC on the sidelines of the Morgan Stanley China Technology, Media & Telecoms Conference.

Beijing has spent heavily in its push for electric cars and other new energy vehicles. Among other measures, the government has allocated subsidies and invested in infrastructure like charging stations.

When state support for electric vehicle manufacturers was reduced last year, however, sales continued to remain robust as Chinese consumers appeared to warm to electric cars, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Given interest in the space, it's no surprise that China's electric car market is fairly crowded, with names like start-up Nio and leading local automaker BYD among those competing in the space. Even Tesla has a foot in the door, although it doesn't receive the same level of government support as local players.

But, according to Zhang, the segment targeted by WM Motor — electric cars priced in the "affordable" range of between 200,000 yuan ($30,764) and 300,000 yuan ($46,144) — is one that remains relatively unaddressed in the market.

For comparison, rival Nio's ES8 model priced at 448,000 yuan ($68,910) while Tesla's Model X went for around 836,000 yuan ($128,587) last month.

"The car industry is not a monopolized industry. There are so many players out there and, frankly, we don't think we're going to take the cheese from everybody else," Ran said.

"We are going to help introduce new technology into this world and hopefully, everybody else is going to do the same thing. And we're going to uplift the water level for everybody."