Zhiji is scheduled to open its first showroom around May 2021 in Shanghai. [Photo by Li Fusheng/NewsVase.com]

Zhiji, an electric car startup by China’s SAIC Motor, Alibaba and Shanghai’s Zhangjiang Group, is to see its first model roll off the assembly line in late 2021.

The carmaker, with an investment of over 10 billion yuan ($1.53 billion), said it will unveil two models in January, with another one to join them at the Shanghai auto show in April.

The marque’s first showroom will open around May 2021 in Shanghai, and mass production of its first model will start in the same year.

Zhiji said SAIC’s expertise in car production and Alibaba’s advantage in big data and artificial intelligence will make its models more competitive in the market.

The carmaker is also developing batteries in partnership with China’s CATL, saying that their energy density will be 30 percent to 40 percent more effective than current ones, and can run for 1,000 kilometers on one charge.

It did not give a clear schedule when the batteries will become available, but Chinese reports say that they will be produced in five years. Zhiji said the vehicles will be capable of wireless charging at speeds similar to wired charging.

Zhiji is also partnering with globally well-known artists including Thomas Heatherwick and Toshiyuki Inoko. Among other things, they will design charging facilities and images to be displayed exclusively on Zhiji models’ screens.

China has been the world’s largest market for new energy vehicles since 2015. Sales of electric cars and plug-in hybrids are estimated to reach 1.3 million this year, up 8 percent from 2018, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, said the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers.