Another California EV startup with some stuff and a dream
There’s Braking Cover, a new electric vehicle startup in California that makes bold claims and teases pie-in-the-sky ideas while preserving what its founder and origin story are about.
If this sounds familiar, that’s because it’s a story that’s been on repeat for the past half-decade. This time around, it’s a company called IndyEV, which emerged from stealth mode on Thursday with a small prototype electric car called the Indy One that it says will start at just $45,000 — a car it boldly says is expected by 2022. Will launch at the end of
The parts of the script are the same: IndiEV wants to power the Indy One with a scalable lithium-ion battery pack (which can be customized to fit more affordable or expensive models or future vehicles); It seeks to take advantage of the extra room afforded by the simple architecture of electric vehicles to do interesting things in the cabin; It mixes a futuristic exterior with a somewhat minimalist interior.
But IndyEV diverges from that script in a few places, most notably it’s top-notch promise that the Indy One will be “the first vehicle to have an integrated supercomputer,” which it says will work for all kinds of gaming and entertainment applications. will give strength to Car — like what Tesla is doing with the new Model S.
Emphasizing on the details, IndiEV shared that this “supercomputer” is simply a custom Windows PC with an i7 processor and an Nvidia RTX2080 graphics card. It’s also not top-of-the-line hardware, let alone a package that could be called a “supercomputer” by any seriousness.
One of IndieEV’s marketing reps said during a Zoom briefing that the hope is that the dedicated rig can power “any Triple-A game, any virtual reality game, any augmented reality game.” The company showed off what they said was a working, hand-built prototype of the vehicle with two 15-inch touchscreens on the dash – one for the separate Linux-based vehicle information system and one for the PC under the hood – and picture drives. Number of people using VR headsets while in the back seat.
The company rep also talked about other fun uses, such as filming the drive with the internal and external cameras and then editing the footage and uploading it to – you guessed it – the car’s built-in 5G modem. At least, IndyEV’s claimed team of about 65 people has created an interesting engineering challenge for itself, as the “supercomputer” is mounted under the car’s front hood. It’s packed into a cooler-sized housing that will somehow withstand the radical temperature changes and vibrations that come with driving a car – no easy feat.
Not only did IndyEV claim to be a working prototype of the car seen during the briefing, but it says that a supplier in South Korea has already made 12 prototypes body-in-white (seated above the chassis) for Indy. steel structure). One. IndiEV did not name any of its suppliers, although data from ImportYeti shows that South Korean company Merit Inc. There was at least one body-in-white delivered in the US since then, an electric motor delivered from China. Jing-Jin Electric, and battery cells from Chinese supplier Eve Energy.
In fact, what is funding all these efforts for the last four years? John Kennedy, IndyEV’s chief of operations, declined to say. But the startup was founded by a Chinese mobile game entrepreneur named Xi Hai, court documents and state filings show, who started a company called Snail Games a little more than a decade ago.
There may be a reason he’s not front and center: Xi and his ventures have been prosecuted three times over claims of racist behavior, poor employee behavior and, in one case, wrongful termination and wage theft.
In 2014, one of the top executives of the US Division of Snell Games, David Runyan sued The company and Xi claimed that the founder discriminated against non-Chinese employees and made derogatory statements. He also said in his complaint that “Working for Xi Hai was exceptionally difficult because he was an unstable individual who often made decisions based on raw emotions and quick decisions.” The suit was eventually settled.
In 2019, Sean VanAmberg, then head of supply chain for IndyEV suing the company, Xi, and several other founding executives on similar claims. According to the complaint, in an alleged conversation, Xi asked VanAmberg to fire her male subordinates and hire Chinese women because “Chinese women like to shop and are better negotiators.” VanAmburg also alleged multiple security code breaches at IndiEV’s Los Angeles, CA facility. His case ended in arbitration.
Also in 2019 a woman named Meng Hua Li sue snail game, Shi and other officers. He said in his complaint that he acted as a “gopher” for Xi and his wife, Ying Zhou, who was also the CFO of Snell Games. Meng was technically employed through a gaming company, but said that he hired Xi and Ying to do “work and personal business,” picking up dry cleaning and “retrieving luxury items on their behalf,” Beverly. I worked long hours looking after the couple’s children. Hills Mansion, shopping, making travel arrangements, conducting “internet research”, translating, making doctor’s appointments, cooking and cleaning, and more. Meng claimed she was “on call” 24 hours a day.
The company reportedly had Meng perform many of these tasks for another executive for a telecommunications company affiliated with Snell Games, on top of his work for Xi and Ying. When Meng tried to get compensation for what was supposed to be overtime work, Snell Games reportedly bucked it. Meng also alleged that Xi often treated her “in a hostile and abusive manner”, telling her not to have children because she would “dedicate her life” to him.
Meng started collecting time cards for unpaid salaries in 2019. In June of that year, “shortly” she dropped Xi at Los Angeles International Airport, after she was fired over email. The two sides are still apparently working on a settlement agreement.
A company spokesperson said the lawsuits are “all frivolous” and have been resolved.
As for where INDEV originally came together, it’s still not entirely clear. Beyond Xi, some of the early employees included a former human resources manager at Faraday Future, as well as Miles Bernal, the man who once claimed in his lawsuit that Faraday Future founder Jia Yueting operated in a mansion he bought on the Pacific Ocean. did. .
For what it’s worth, IndiEV is at least now trying to engage with the public about what it’s doing, as opposed to something like fellow California EV startup Alfa Motors, which has Till date nothing has been done to prove that this is not some kind of joke or scam. But like so many other EV startups that have emerged from California in recent years — from Faraday Future to Fisher Inc. to Karma Automotive — IndyEV has an incredibly tough road ahead.