Chinese Qiantu electric supercar targets U.S. market

Henry Payne
The Detroit News
China's Qiantu K50 electric supercar.

New York – Make it three Chinese cars coming to the U.S. market in 2020.

Qiantu Motors unveiled the Qiantu K50 electric supercar at the New York auto show on Wednesday, throwing its hat in the U.S. ring along with GAC and Byton as Chinese automakers bringing models to the U.S. next year.

Their products will be a diverse lot. GAC has a gas-powered family SUV introduced at this year’s Detroit auto show, while Byton’s M-Byte is an electric SUV with a giant dash-screen that's aimed at Tesla. Introduced at last year’s Los Angeles auto show, the M-Byte has a sister in the wings, the K-Byte sedan.

The Qiantu K50 is all about green speed.

China's Qiantu K50 Electric Supercar

Developed in China with a U.S. distribution network by Mullen, Qiantu (pronounced "Shan-too") will assemble the K50 in North America. It is already under production in China. The EV bears the proportions of a mid-engine sports car like the Audi R8. Behind the cockpit, however, resides a T-shaped battery, not an engine. That battery powers an all-wheel drive, 430-horsepower powertrain with electric motors in the front and rear.

“We are thrilled to bring the Qiantu K50 to the North American epicenter of luxury, design and entrepreneurial spirit — New York City,” said David Michery, Mullen founder and CEO. “These are three of our brand’s core values, which are embodied in our first flagship vehicle with zero CO2 emissions.”

To help its need for speed, the K50 is built on a a lightweight aluminum chassis with body panels crafted from carbon fiber. Add the massive lithium-ion battery, though, and the car tips the scales at a heavy 4,300 pounds. The battery is liquid-cooled and heated for seasonal climates, unlike many EVs on the market today.

In addition to its mid-engine layout, the K50 shares design cues with other supercars. Its rear lights remind of McLaren while its dark black “sideburns” echo the first-generation Audi R8.

The low, swoopy nose bears the Qiantu dragonfly logo, but no grille.

China's Qiantu K50 Electric Supercar

The sports car is said to have a range of 230 miles on a single charge. Targeting a supercar market home to some of the world’s most prestigious brands, the Chinese rookie will come equipped with premium touches like a 15.6-inch digital instrument display, leather and Alcantara sports seats, solar-powered air circulation, and three drive modes: Adaptive, Sport and Boost.

Mullen has a used-car sales infrastructure in the U.S. and is building retail stores specially for the K50. The supercar is scheduled to be on lots in late 2020 with a sticker price between $100,000-$150,000, putting it in the same space as the BMW i8 plug-in and Audi R8.  

The Qiantu K50 is trying to succeed where other electric supercar start-ups have failed. Both Faraday Future and Lucid have teased EVs for the U.S. market but haven’t been able to follow through on production.

GAC, which first showed its Trumpchi SUV at the 2018 Detroit show, has a production-ready version of an SUV.  But its entry has been delayed by the U.S.-China tariff spat. It’s due to make landfall here in early 2020.

China's Qiantu K50 Electric Supercar

GAC sold more than 500,000 vehicles in 16 countries last year, but most of its sales have been in China. It plans to expand to Africa, South America and other Asian markets this year.

Start-up Byton is on ambitious schedule to get its SUV to market next year. It wowed the LA show with it’s a big-screen interior that hints at an autonomous future. It has pulled some of its engineering talent from BMW and has offices in Germany, the U.S. and China.

Henry Payne is auto critic for The Detroit News. Find him at or Twitter @HenryEPayne. Catch “Car Radio with Henry Payne” from noon-2 p.m. Saturdays on 910 AM Superstation.