The LeSEE electric sedan was one of the hottest cars at the recently held Beijing Auto Show. It is widely described as the “Chinese Tesla killer”, and the company has also stated that it has Tesla in its sights.
The company behind LeSee
The LeSEE has been developed by LeEco, China’s largest internet-television company, often compared to Netflix. LeEco incorporates various businesses such as Le.com, the original internet TV activities, LeMall.com, a web shop with LE-branded electronics, LeCloud cloud computing, LeEco Microcredit internet-finance, and LeAuto, a connected-car system maker.
LeEco also oversees three car-making ventures: Faraday Future in the U.S., an electric version of the Aston Martin Rapide, and this new LeSEE electric sedan. In China, LeEco owns a stake in Beijing Electric Vehicle Corporation (BJEV), which is an electric vehicle maker under the Beijing Auto Industry Corporation (BAIC). LeEco’s revenues were $1.99 billion in 2015, with an $88.41 million profit, representing a 59% rise as compared to 2014.
LeSee fully-electric luxury sedan concept is the LeEco’s first vehicle. No surprise, it hopes to challenge the growing number of Tesla sales in the Chinese market.
The LeSee concept
The LeSEE concept car is a four-door sedan-coupe with scissor doors. It can move under its own power and can be remote-controlled with a smartphone as well. This was also demonstrated during a media event in Beijing. LeEco says the concept car is fitted with autopilot technology for autonomous driving, with sensors located in a roof-based pod. In autonomous mode the steering wheel folds into the dashboard.
This indicates the LeSEE is a fully autonomous vehicle and not semi-autonomous like the Tesla Model S where the driver still needs to keep his hands close to the wheel. Co-founder and CEO of LeEco, Jia Yueting, hopes the car will help China’s auto industry reach the forefront of global automation in the future.
“When everyone is questioning us over our ability to develop a car like this and is laughing at us, we are still able to be here and show you this car … I am so emotional,” Yueting said.
The LeSee production version
The LeSEE is primarily intended for the Chinese market. LeEco has said it will have a top speed of 211 km/h, and that it will be cheaper than the Model S, which starts at 730,000 yuan in China ($112,000). LeEco gave any clue as to when the production will start, but has said that the production car has already entered the “testing phase”. LeEco hopes to out-do Tesla in both speed and range.
The LeSee’s interior features a low-profile cockpit with a raft of touch-screen controls, and the steering wheel is retractable to accommodate fully autonomous driving. LeEco says it has also created isolated zones for each passenger to enjoy their own entertainment.
While the LeSee is just a concept car with some fantastical design elements, it does show promise in the styling department. The car’s extra-long cabin and arched transparent roof give it a stretched but sporty profile which is good enough from most angles to pull people into dealerships.