5 EV Startups That Can Seriously Challenge Tesla

Published On Apr 11, 2021 01:00 PM By CarDekho

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These electric car startups are taking aim at Tesla with some exciting offerings

Despite being a relatively new entrant, Tesla has established itself as a significant player in the global electric car market. In fact, the Tesla Model 3 was the best-selling electric car in 2020, having sold over 3.65 lakh units, which is over thrice the volume of the second best-seller -- the Wuling HongGuang Mini EV! 

While Tesla has now achieved cult status and is the most recognisable electric carmaker in the industry, there are other brands worldwide looking to challenge the EV giant with some rather promising and innovative offerings.

Here are five such startups that can give Tesla a run for its money:


Rivian is a Michigan-based startup that gained popularity in 2017 after it announced its intent to develop an all-electric off-road pickup truck. Pickups form a major chunk of car sales in the USA. Hence, news of an all-electric pickup spread like wildfire in the market. The company unveiled its concept vehicle, the R1T pickup, at the 2018 LA Auto Show. It was claimed to go from 0 to 92kmph in less than 3 seconds while having a towing capacity of up to 11,000 lbs (around 4,990kg). The pickup boasts a range of 300+ miles (483km), with a 400+ miles (644km) variant expected later in 2022. The Rivian R1T is priced from $67,500 (around Rs 49.09 lakh), and deliveries are scheduled to commence from June 2021. 

Thanks to its progress with the R1T (and more products in the pipeline, including a full-size electric SUV), the Rivian has been funded by companies like Ford and Amazon. The latter has even placed an order for 100,000 electric delivery vans from the manufacturer to be used for its logistics arm.


Founded in 2007 as Atieva, the company began with manufacturing powertrain for other vehicle makers and developing battery technology for EVs. However, it came to the limelight in 2016 when it was rebranded Lucid Motors and unveiled the striking Lucid Air, a luxury electric sedan. The company claims that the production version can travel over 400 miles (644km) on a single charge. If that wasn’t enough, the company said it will launch another version boasting a range of around 832km. However, it would still be less than that of the Tesla Roadster, which promises a range of 1000km when launched in 2022. The Lucid EV will also boast exceptional performance figures, with a 0 - 92kmph sprint taking under 2.5 seconds. 

Lucid has announced their first EV will be available in four variants: Air Touring, Air Grand Touring, Air Pure, and Air Dream Edition. Prices will start from around $77,400 (approx Rs 56.75 lakh). Buoyed by total funding of over $1 billion, the company has been quite aggressive with its strategy and already started work on its manufacturing plant in Casa Grande, Arizona. The company’s CEO is Peter Rawlinson, who was the Chief Engineer for the Tesla Model S till 2012. Deliveries are expected to start by the end of 2021.


If you follow Formula E, chances are you might have come across the name NIO. In China, its home country, NIO is a pretty famous EV manufacturer. Founder William Li unveiled the NIO brand in November 2014 and showcased their first EV, the NIO EP9 sports car, on the same day. Production of the EP9 started in 2016, but only six units were made and sold to company investors. Reports suggest that each NIO EP9 fetched around £2 million (over Rs 20 crore). Since the launch of its first sports car, NIO has introduced three more production models of electric SUVs - EC6, ES6, and ES8. The company plans to introduce two sedans, a subcompact SUV, and a minivan in the next couple of years. Nio’s primary reason for success in China is its extensive network of 190+ battery swap stations across the country. Unlike conventional EVs (that need to be brought to a halt and then charged for an hour or more), with NIO cars, one can simply swap the discharged battery with a fully charged one. This can bring down idle time by a considerable extent.

Li Auto

Founded in 2015, Li Auto has secured funding from big Chinese corporations like Meituan (a consumer services platform) and Bytedance (the parent company of TikTok). As of now, the company has just one product on sale in China, the Li Xiang ONE SUV, which was unveiled at the 2019 Shanghai Auto Show, with production starting around 2019-end. Interestingly, it isn’t pure electric power that Li Auto is currently focusing on. Instead, the brand is offering Plug In Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV), which means that the Li Xiang ONE SUV can be charged either by plugging in a power supply source or via its onboard internal combustion engine. It is worth noting that the Li Xiang ONE currently has the second longest electric drive range for any PHEV in the world. It can cover a distance of 180 km on its electric power. In contrast, the BMW i3 hatchback can cover around 203 km. The ONE SUV is currently only on sale in China at 328,000 Yuan (around Rs 37.39 lakh).

Pravaig Dynamics

Pravaig Dynamics is an Indian electric car startup based out of Bangalore. Though it isn’t as big as some of the companies listed above, Pravaig is surely demonstrating how building an EV startup with high aspirations in India isn’t a dream anymore. Pravaig is funded by a France-based energy company. It has developed an electric coupe prototype named ‘Extinction MKI’. However, the company’s first product is expected to be a four-door sedan, the design and specifications of which haven’t yet been revealed. 

Interestingly, Pravaig has a different strategy to sell their cars. The startup is targeting corporates that need a fleet of vehicles to ferry employees and visiting guests. Pravaig will offer its electric cars on a subscription basis. The company aims to ‘Sell Kilometers, not Cars.’ Though the range of the final production-spec version isn’t known yet, Pravaig claims that the Extinction prototype develops around 204PS and 2,400Nm of peak torque and can sprint from 0 to 100 kmph in 5.4 seconds.

It is worth noting that the above startups aren’t the only manufacturers focusing on electric cars. Most traditional carmakers have also started projects dedicated to electric mobility. Volvo has committed to sell only electric cars from 2030. Its parent company, Geely, has even launched Zeekr, a new brand which will focus on developing and selling electric vehicles. Hyundai too is aiming to launch 10 new all-electric cars in the next five years. The world’s largest automotive group, Volkswagen AG, has also hit the ground running with its electric mobility program. The company, aiming to become the leader in the electric car market by 2025, sold over 1.34 lakh battery-powered electric cars in 2020, translating to a year-on-year growth of 197%. In fact, UBS analysts believe VW can overtake Tesla in electric car sales numbers by as early as 2022. 

With so many companies working on a wide range of electric cars, the future of electric mobility sure seems bright.

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