ICONIQ motors was established by Chinese entrepreneur Alan Wu in 2014 as a new energy automobile manufacturer brand. His vision was clear: to become a strong force in the electric mobility revolution, offering a unique passenger experience by focusing on the latest in comfort, entertainment and productive technologies.
The company has an international management team composed of senior experts of design, R&D and R&D managers, which has its offices in Tianjin, Shanghai and UAE. ICONIQ also works with world-leading design, engineering and technology brands and has established strategic partnerships with the likes of Magna Steyr, Microsoft, MASDAR, SafeCity and AKKA.
To find out more, Auto Futures spoke to Wu, to understand his vision and strategy, which includes a premium electric vehicle that he calls a “smart-sexy passenger vehicle.” We’ll refer to that as SPV from now on.
Its All About the Passenger Experience
“The first vehicle of ICONIQ is an electric SPV,” he says, “positioned in the premium market, which focuses on the passenger experience.”
Named the Seven, the EV boasts AI voice control technology, text to voice, remote diagnosis system, predictive maintenance system and other intelligent technologies, providing a new mobility experience.
“Through the Microsoft Azure Cloud Platform, Microsoft Interconnected Vehicle Platform (MCVP) and Intelligent Technology, ICONIQ will build a unique and customer-centric experience of interconnected vehicles and contribute everything needed for an intelligent digital factory for modern service industries,” Wu continues.
The ICONIQ Seven will consist of three models, including a ‘mobility’ version with 7 seats, a ‘premium’ version with 6 seats and a ‘VIP’ version with 4 seats. Thanks to the EVs skateboard infrastructure, there is a lot of freedom when it comes to interior design and layout.
In addition to these models, the Chinese automaker is working towards an autonomous vehicle, following the launch of its fully-electric self-driving concept car, the MUSE.
The concept features an autonomous system without any of the driver equipment you are used to, such as a steering wheel or a brake pedal, as Wu and his team go all in on a driverless future. Thanks to swivelling front seats, the car can also be converted into a mobile meeting room via conference mode. This means business – in both senses of the word.
“A team of global technology experts and visionary industry leaders such as AKKA Technologies, Magna Steyr and Microsoft USA partnered to bring the project to life,” Wu adds. According to him, a MUSE test fleet with level 4 self-driving capability will be commissioned at the Dubai Expo next year.
New Game. New Players.
The demand for new government policies, innovative mobility products and supporting smart infrastructure continues to grow. People are crying out for electrification, automation and the sharing of vehicles.
Wu explains that ICONIQ has been focusing on a mobility strategy since its inception. “We’re not just an auto manufacturer, but an interconnected mobility provider which will not only provide the avant-garde electric mobility cars but also provide the intelligent mobility service. ICONIQ will meet the new era of automatic driving with pure electric, fully interconnected and autonomous driving as its main strategy.”
Although many regions around the world are lacking behind, leaving modern-day transport in limbo as cities continue to fill up with people and pollution, China has become a great case study for how government should support this development.
“The central government and provincial and municipal governments in China at all levels have given a lot of policy support which provides new energy automobile companies with tremendous space and opportunities,” says Wu, who believes that the challenges facing the automotive industry are global and borderless.
“Thanks to economic globalisation and global integration, the difficult issues that many industries are facing will be solved by the common wisdom of the world and market dynamics. This is the core reason why the automotive industry can continue to make progress and achieve continuous innovations and changes. The Chinese auto industry will definitely play a crucial role in this going forward.”
The Trillion-dollar E-Mobility Market
It is clear that the development of electrification has helped new automakers like ICONIQ enter the market. By 2025, 20 million vehicles will have been electrified, which will reshape a new industry post internal combustion engine.
Due to this, China is quickly becoming the home of many EV manufacturers. Wu tells me that by next year the sales of EVs will account for 8% of China’s passenger car sales, 20% in 2025, and 68% in 2040. Fast forward 20 years from now and the world will be a very different place.
“The auto industry has experienced over a century of historical accumulation of combustion engine engineering and is the most concentrated embodiment of modern industrial civilization,” Wu adds. “The auto industry is moving from traditional fuel to electrification, bringing more possibilities and opportunities.”
By now, this shouldn’t be much of a surprise. The Chinese auto market has been the largest passenger car market in the world for years, and will only get stronger with the addition of EVs.
“The development of China’s new energy vehicle market has entered a new era, and the mode of industrial development is also shifting from a policy-oriented one to a market-driven one,” says Wu. “New energy vehicle users are also younger. They are more willing to accept new technologies, having a stronger desire to recognise and pursue technology progress.”
In the past century, the automobile industry has been entirely driver-focused, but it will soon become passenger-focused thanks to the development of future mobility. This, much like the rise of EVs, will allow new players to capitalise in a soon-to-be trillion-dollar market. And Iconiq wants a piece of the pie.