LeSEE Chinese Autonomous EV Looks like the First Proper Tesla Rival

LeEco's LeSEE 5 photos
Photo: LeEco
LeEco's LeSEELeEco's LeSEELeEco's LeSEELeEco's LeSEE
Brace yourselves: Elon Musk has a Chinese clone. His name is Jia Yueting and he is predictably a billionaire involved in the technology business. Sounds familiar?
He owns a company called LeECO (the artist formerly known as LeTV) that has lately been working on what was initially a side-project from its main activity: making affordable smartphones and TV sets. Yueting invested $1.2 billion into this new endeavor, with the money coming from his own pocket - so even though he might have ten times that to spare (we're just guessing here, we're not his accountants), it still shows he's determined to go all the way. And during an event last night, he made that as clear as possible.

Sitting on the stage in a pair of jeans and a black t-shirt (what is it with these people and their fashion sense?), Yueting showed the world LeSEE, the electric car his team has been developing in recent months. We first reported about the LeSEE (which was called LeCar back then, so that's an improvement right there) back in August, when we didn't have too much to go with apart from the fact that the LeCar (sic) will be ready for a 2016 Beijing Motor Show preview.

With just a few days to spare, Yueting showed the world his creation, and we have to say we're quite impressed. The design is fresh and even though some things do scream "Tesla," it's not "one of those" carbon-copy Chinese designs we're used to. It looks original and if they manage to retain it largely unchanged for the production version, they might have a winner.

Unfortunately, there isn't too much to talk about apart from the design. Yueting says it's going to be an autonomous vehicle, the world's first with the ability to "self-evolve." That means it's going to have very advanced AI, but it also suggests we shouldn't expect the LeSEE to make it into production anytime soon. The team has moved very fast as it is coming up with a functional prototype, so let's not push our luck.

Electrek mentions a few hypothetical numbers for the LeSEE, but not the one we're most interested in: its maximum range. Instead, we find out it's got a top speed of 130 mph (210 km/h), suicide doors and a steering wheel that folds away when it's not in use. The car is also supposed to offer separated areas for each of its passengers, but we still can't get our heads around that information.

Hopefully, it will all become a lot clearer later this week once the Beijing Auto Show kicks off and LeSEE gets its official premiere. But based solely on what we've seen here - and on the fact that LeEco is involved in partnerships with Aston Martin and Faraday Future - consider us intrigued. Could China be the place where the first real Tesla rival will poke its head from?

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About the author: Vlad Mitrache
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"Boy meets car, boy loves car, boy gets journalism degree and starts job writing and editing at a car magazine" - 5/5. (Vlad Mitrache if he was a movie)
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