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Mr. Musk, meet Atieva

So Tesla has squarely fallen on the radar of the entire world. Similar to Facebook, the electric car maker has taken the industry by storm and as with most things, once something is going well, others seek to cash in as well. A few miles from Tesla’s headquarters in Palo Alto, a Silicon Valley startup with major backing from Chinese investors is ready to challenge Mr. Musk and his cohort.

Atieva, spearheaded by Mr. Peter Rawlinson, a former Tesla lead engineer for the Model S sedan, has said that Atieva’s software is the company’s “secret sauce.” Mr. Rawlinson plans to put oout a premium electric sedan by 2018 which will then open up the floodgates to a pair of luxury cross-overs soon thereafter.  In addition to Tesla, Atieva is also up against three other China-based startups that are working closely with Silicon Valley technologists. In fact, the same Chinese billionaire that is backing Atieva is also funding two of the other three startups.

Atieva was started in California by former Tesla and Oracle executives in late 2007. Still a couple years away from full production Atieva is using a Mercedes-Benz commercial van to test the drivetrain. The “secret sauce” is rumored to have the capabilities of tying all the hardware together to eventually deliver a combined 900 horsepower to the 5,000 four-wheel-drive van he has affectionately named “Edna.”

Word is the Atieva sedan looks like a futuristic version of the Audi A7. With ultra-thin headlamps and a three-piece, reconfigurable dashboard, Mr. Rawlinson has already a couple hundred million dollars in investment funds that also include a capital firm once associated with the Rockefeller family.

Expect this type of activity and new competition to only increase in the coming years. Tesla opened the door and an avalanche has now commenced.

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