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China’s Hybrid Kinetic targets Tesla with Italian styling, turbine range extender

Why it matters to you

Hybrid Kinetic is yet another startup aiming to take on Tesla, but it's got some interesting cards in its hand.

From Faraday Future to Lucid Motors to NextEV’s Nio, there is no shortage of startups ready to take on Tesla with their own electric cars. And now you can add one more to that list.

Chinese firm Hybrid Kinetic first made news in 2010 when it announced plans to build hybrid cars in Alabama. That never happened, but now the company is back with an electric luxury sedan, called the H600. Unveiled as a concept at the recent 2017 Geneva Motor Show, it will go on sale in both China and the U.S. in 2019 or 2020, Hybrid Kinetic board member Carter Yeung said in an Automotive News (subscription required) interview. He name-checked both Tesla and Mercedes-Benz as potential competitors.

What sets the H600 apart from other self-proclaimed Tesla fighters? First off, it was designed by famed Italian styling house Pininfarina, creator of classics like the Maserati Birdcage, and many Ferraris. Second, the H600 uses a small turbine as a generator to power its electric motors when battery charge runs out. Hybrid Kinetic and Pininfarina claim a range of over 600 miles on both battery and turbine power.

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With both Faraday Future and Lucid Motors claiming 1,000 horsepower for the top versions of their electric cars, the H600’s 804-hp rating almost seems a bit conservative. That’s still enough to get the big sedan (it weighs over 4,000 pounds) from 0 to 62 mph in under 3.0 seconds, according to its creators.

The concept version shown in Geneva is “85 to 90 percent” identical to the production model, according to Hybrid Kinetic’s Yeung. Rather than take a second stab at a U.S. factory, Hybrid Kinetic will likely build the H600 in China, and export cars here. Young said the company hopes to build “well over” 200,000 cars a year within 5 to 10 years of the start of production, which is a pretty ambitious goal for a new automaker.

As a matter of fact, just trying to get the H600 into production before the end of the decade will be a challenge. In the meantime, Hybrid Kinetic plans to unveil two more cars at the upcoming Shanghai Motor Show.