Young EV startup Avatr appears to be the latest Chinese automaker sharing plans to expand to new markets in Europe. Following the debut of its second-ever EV model the 12 (pronounced “one-two”), Avatr – backed by big tech names like CATL, Huawei, and Changan – will not only sell its EVs in Europe but also intends to build them there too.
Avatr Technology is an EV startup founded in 2018 that began as a Chinese joint venture between NIO and state-owned Changan Automobile before the former transferred its entire stake over to the latter in 2020.
In addition to Changan, Avatr is now also backed by the world’s largest battery manufacturer CATL, and electronics manufacturing powerhouse Huawei. the joint venture debuted its first EV model, the 11 (“one-one”) SUV in late 2021 before going on sale in China last year.
The startup has since promised to launch three additional new models over the course of the next three years, which continued this week at IAA Mobility in Munich – Europe’s largest auto show. Avatr not only debuted its second model – a fastback sedan called the 12, but also shared details about selling its EVs in Europe.
Avatr to bring EV production to EU, which models TBD
Earlier this week, Avatr pulled the sheet off the 12 sedan (seen above), which although will be built in China by three inherently Chinese companies, was designed at the company’s studio in Munich alongside its 11 SUV sibling.
According to Avatr CEO Tan Benhong, the startup may expand beyond mere design in Europe and is exploring local production to support plans to enter new markets overseas within the next two years. Benhong elaborated by saying Avatr is specifically targeting the premium market in Europe and specifically called out BMW as a competitor on its own turf in Munich.
Avatr’s chief would not discuss what vehicles might make their way over to Europe first, but with two more EVs in its development pipeline, the startup should have three if not four to choose from if and when it does actually enter new markets in the EU.
For now, the focus will remain on the new 12 sedan, which appears to have taken some design inspiration from the – at least on the front and steering wheel controls (see image above). The fastback sits atop the same CHN platform as the 11 SUV and features HarmonyOS 4.0 from Huawei as CATL EV batteries.
Avatr has already confirmed it will be one of the first automakers to implement CATL’s new fast-charging ShenXing LFP cells, but has not confirmed they will be in the 12 sedan. CATL also recently announced plans for production in Europe for that specific battery technology, which could further support Avatr in the coming years should it seek an EU plant.
This is a young company so we will cut them some slack, but in seeing the 12 up close, it looks like a copy of a copy of a Tesla – common design practice in China for some. We have seen other automakers start the same way and find their own design language, but right now Avatr just feels like yet another Chinese automaker expanding from one saturated EV market to try and compete on a continent filled with legacy automakers without any brand identity. That’s tough.
Having software support from Huawei and battery tech from CATL provides a deep breath of optimism for this startup however, especially if the 12 or any Avatr EVs beyond feature the ShenXing batteries and the charging speeds being touted.
I’ll keep an eye on this one, but feel Avatr will need to step up its game (and its identity) if it wants to truly compete in Europe. Next step for me will be trying to get behind the wheel of one and see if my attitude changes. Will work on it!
Author: Scooter Doll