Upstart Chinese electric car company IM arrives in Israel

Upstart Chinese electric car company IM arrives in Israel

The new Chinese electric car brand IM is expected to arrive in Israel in 2025. The brand was established in December 2020 as a collaboration between the automotive giant SAIC (owner of MG), the Chinese Alibaba Group, and the Zhangjiang Technology Group.

The initiative is known as Zhiji Motor in the Chinese market, but to make the name easier for the West, the more familiar name of IM — standing for Intelligence in Motion — was chosen.

The brand has taken the direction of automobile companies including Tesla, Nio, Zeekr, and XPeng, manufacturing electric cars with a technological focus and ambition to integrate into the the market as a luxury brand.

Currently, the brand offers three models, with a fourth model (a sedan competing with the Tesla Model 3) to be uncovered soon. It’s worth noting that in August 2023, German auto company Audi approached IM so that the latter would allow it to use electric technology for two Audi models intended for the Chinese market.

Alongside its new models, the company is also aiming to develop other technological projects, and announced that it had begun a project to integrate wireless charging for private cars (11 kW) about a year ago.

This is probably the first time the technology is being directed toward the mass market, as until now, it has only been attempted for large companies or with large automobiles like buses, trucks, and forklifts.

The large L7 sedan is the brand’s first model and was unveiled about five months after its establishment. Sales in China began about ten months later, in early 2022, with the goal of competing with the Tesla Model S and the Nio ET7.

Its dimensions are a testament to this: 501 cm in length, 196 cm in width, and a wheelbase of 310 cm. An interesting note – the Williams F1 racing team, also assisted the manufacturer in developing the platform and driving experience.

There are two propulsion versions in the model: a single rear engine with 340 hp and rear-wheel drive, or one with an additional front engine for a combined output of 578 hp with a 3.9 seconds acceleration from 0 to 100 km/h.

Both versions are equipped with a 90 kWh battery for a range that, according to Chinese standards, provides 615 km. The European standard used in Israel will likely show lower measures.

The large LS7 crossover model was introduced in February 2023, and was displayed at the Shanghai International Automobile Industry Exhibition. It offers similar and slightly larger dimensions than those of the Tesla Model X and the Nio ES8, with a length of 505 cm, a width of 200 cm, a height of 177 cm, and a wheelbase of 306 cm. Despite its large dimensions, it has only five seats.

The propulsion systems are identical to those of the L7 with 340 and 578 horsepower, and acceleration to 100 km/h is slightly less quick at 6.5 or 4.5 seconds respectively depending on the power output selected. There are three battery options to select from (77, 90, and 100 kWh), and its range varies between 510-625 km according to the Chinese standard.

The midsize LS6 crossover is the newest addition to the lineup and was unveiled last summer, with sales in China starting from October 2023. It’s intended to compete with the Tesla Model Y and the XPeng G9 and offers similar dimensions: a length of 490 cm, a width of 199 cm, a height of 167 cm, and a wheelbase of 295 cm.

As the latest entry of the company, the model’s engine lineup has been expanded and bolstered, consisting of three rear-wheel-drive versions and one very powerful dual-motor version.

With base models, there are versions with 314, 340, and 515 horsepower – all rear-wheel drive only. In the more expensive models, the dual-motor version combines 515 horsepower from the rear and an additional 272 from the front for a total output of 787 horsepower. Acceleration to 100 km/h stands at 3.5 seconds.

The battery lineup also varies slightly with 71, 90, and 100 kWh, and the model’s range changes from 560-725 km according to the Chinese standard.

To the silent observer, it seems that time moves quickly in China, as the new IM brand has introduced three entirely new models within two years, with more expected by the time it arrives in Israel in 2025. And if that’s not enough, it also has three very deep-pocketed parent companies that only serve to help its chances overseas.

However, like other Chinese brands recently popping up, attention should be given to the exact numbers, and currently, the brand’s sales figures for the past two years are relatively low compared to what’s usually seen in the Chinese market, with only 15,120 customers joining the IM brand in 2023.