Liu Tao, co-CEO of Alibaba-backed IM Motors, said in an exclusive interview with local media outlet The Paper that the company is considering introducing some low-risk suppliers or simplifying complex products and processes due to the pandemic. Further to the cost-cutting measures, Liu also mentioned that the company is now in talks to secure its first round of financing.
IM Motors is a joint venture funded by SAIC, Alibaba and Zhangjiang Hi-Tech. The company was founded at the end of 2020 and is divided among the investors with SAIC holding the majority of shares with 54% of shares. The other two parties hold 18% of shares respectively.
On April 17, IM Motors officially released its first mass production model, the “IM L7 Pro”. With a price of 408,800 yuan ($61,266), the vehicle allows IM Motors to enter directly the premium passenger car market controlled by traditional luxury brands such as Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Audi. However, Liu said that as a young, high-end electric car brand, the company had not deliberately benchmarked against a certain brand, but created new products, new experiences and new values belonging to the new era.
Recently, the prices of raw materials in the automobile industry have soared. IM Motors, which has already started mass production, is also facing these challenges. Liu mentioned that “the price increase of precious metals and rare earths has led to great pressure in the power battery supply chain and vehicle manufacturers.”
IM Motors has obtained a guarantees for the supply of batteries by leveraging SAIC Motor’s supply chain system. SAIC Motor and battery giant CATL already have in-depth agreements in technology and capital, and the both parties have two joint ventures, covering the packaging and assembly of batteries.
In terms of chip supply, Liu said, “We will place orders for chips from suppliers in advance according to our production capacity plan to cope with the shortage of chips.”
IM Motors has taken many measures to deal with the supply chain problem it faces. The first is to establish a remote management mode to monitor the whole supply process and supervise the production status of automobile parts. The second is to optimize the supply chain system. Mature suppliers often have emergency response capabilities, but many new suppliers need IM Motors to help them resume production under the epidemic outbreak.