Chinese electric car startup Nezha is planning to invest 2 billion yuan ($309 milion) in a research and development facility, with a primary focus on smart onboard functions, autonomous driving as well as new models.
Dai Dali, Nezha's chief technology officer, made the announcement at an online press conference on Wednesday, saying that the facility is believed to sharpen the competitive edge of its models.
The startup is working on a model that can run for over 1,000 kilometers with the help of an range extender.
It is expected to have a mileage of around 300 kilometers on the pure electric mode. Level 3 autonomous functions will be available in the model as well.
The model is expected to be unveiled later this year and hit the market in 2022, said the startup.
Nezha CEO Zhang Yong said the startup will also launch the 2021 models of the Neta U and the Neta V this year.
The updated Neta U will have a range up to 610 km on one charge, while the Neta V will have variants, including those specially designed for female drivers.
Zhang said Nezha will strive to sell 40,000 to 50,000 vehicles this year. In 2020, it sold 15,091 vehicles, up 51 percent year-on-year.
The Neta U will be available as well in variants that are capable of battery swap. Nezha said it will build 100 battery swap stations across the country in 2021.
Battery swap is gaining momentum in China, as it allows customers to pay for only the vehicle and rent a battery from the carmaker.
That means they can own an electric vehicle at a lower price and are spared the worries that the used battery may become a burden when the sell the car.
Carmakers including Nio, BJEV and Geely have launched such vehicles. By the end of 2020, there were less than 600 battery-swap stations across the country.
Carmakers and charging infrastructure companies are to speed up the efforts. Aulton said it will establish 500 new battery-swap stations in the country in 2021, which can be found in more than 50 cities, with the total number reaching 800.