Confusion brews as retro-style EV startup Alpha Motor activates the appeal

Electric vehicle startup Alpha Motor Corporation posted a video this week showing the “launch” of its Alpha wolf electric pickup concept.

In it, Joshua Boyt and Jay Lijewski appear together on stage and come up with ideas like we’ve seen Silicon Valley guys and executives do in a variety of product debuts. No titles are given, but it’s not difficult to interpret them as designer and CTO and to remember how they came up with the idea behind the vehicle. Underlined with tech-bro sensibility, they say the electric pickup should be fun and futuristic, while evoking the nostalgia of watching Saturday morning cartoons.

Joshua Boyt and Jay Lijewski at Alpha Motors

“Since we are ramping up the production lines here in the USA, we assume that the Wolf electric truck will be available by the end of 2023,” says Lijewski. “More information on vehicle test drives and delivery dates will be available closer to production.”

The wolf is eye candy indeed – a nostalgia trigger and the kind of EV conversion Burner would get involved in. At roughly 190 inches in length, it’s roughly the length of the Ford Rangers, Nissan Hardbodys, and Toyota Trucks of the 1980s and through the 90s, and it’s irresistibly cute bait for tech, automotive, and electric vehicle editors who want that Get to know the audience. Affordability, robustness, retro look, Tesla-style door handles and the stock market craze for electric pickups from the Cybertruck to the Rivian R1T. It’s all there.

Alpha Wolf Concept - Alpha Motor Corporation - August 2021

Alpha Wolf Concept – Alpha Motor Corporation – August 2021

Such is a claimed range of 275 miles that exceeds any other electric vehicle currently sold in the US outside of the US Ford Mustang Mach-E and Tesla vehicles. Former

A 75 kWh lithium-ion battery delivers that estimated range, claims Alpha, on an 80% charge, which can be done in about 30 minutes with DC fast charging. In addition, Alpha claims a maximum towing capacity of 3,000 pounds and an acceleration to 60 mph in 6.2 seconds.

Unsurprisingly, the Wolf deserves tons of breathless, exuberant media coverage – with very little critical discussion of who Alpha Motor Corporation actually is, why it exists, or how this vehicle could be designed, developed, and built in less time than others Start-ups.

Joshua Boyt and Jay Lijewski at the Volvo Booth, NY Auto Show

Joshua Boyt and Jay Lijewski at the Volvo Booth, NY Auto Show

Boyt and Lijewski know something about serving what the automobile public wants. Previously, they worked with Volvo at US events and auto shows, and had small talk with the auto press – us included. But they didn’t work on the automotive side: it was Seattle baristas who made great coffee and espresso.

Some realities in the submissions

The only verifiable fact about the Wolf concept is that it is on display at the Petersen Automotive Museum in LA this week. To the best of our knowledge, Boyt and Lijewski have no significant role in the product itself at the time of writing.

And now the part the fanboy press probably won’t want to hear: Alpha Motor Corporation lists its corporate address in the same way as the U.S. subsidiary of Neuron EV, a former company that it was reportedly in both Shanghai as well, except for the suite also based in Los Angeles, with an alleged $ 85 million seed funding round to be used to develop an electric vehicle.

Co-working space - company address for Alpha Motor and Neuron EV

Co-working space – company address for Alpha Motor and Neuron EV

It’s just not a place where Alpha conducts its top-secret vehicle development and builds its intellectual property – a co-working space next to the Spectrum Mall in Irvine. It is inconceivable that it could house the workforce of hundreds, if not thousands, of employees that would be necessary to have a vehicle delivered in just over two years.

That $ 85 million amount would really be considered training wheels in the world of EV startups. For a vehicle in the US market that meets DOT and safety standards, it costs approximately $ 2 billion to cover design, development, and construction, and to get through the validation phase of production. Byton– a recently formed startup with Chinese connections and funding from an industrial giant, a US presence, a German tech ground, and an almost entirely baked product – couldn’t quite pull it off with funds well in excess of that, considering its assembly The plant alone cost $ 1.5 billion.

Neuron EV debut

Neuron EV debut

Neuron New Energy Vehicle was founded by Gang Zheng, a venture capital investor in China, and Neuron Corporation, known as Neuron EV, was originally registered as a California company in 2018, initially registered to Jonathan Leu but signed by Edward Lee, with Lee and Michelle Quan as leaders.

One startup went dark, the other radioed in its place

Neuron’s website followed a similar design and layout to Alpha and originally featured a sustainability-rich language that comes close to Alpha’s message – although Neuron’s model itself comes with a full range of modular trucks, including a Class 8 articulated lorry, was much more extensive and ambitious. Sometime later in 2019, it went quiet. Green Car Reports tried to contact Neuron EV at the time to check the status of its projects but received no response. Some time later the website was taken offline.

A new document was submitted in April 2020 transferring the leadership positions from Neuron to Gang Zheng. In June, papers for the company’s liquidation were released.

Then two more things happened. Neuron EV was separately registered as a new California company in August 2020 and opened in an office building in neighboring Tustin near John Wayne Airport – with Gang Zheng as director. Alpha Motor Corporation was incorporated in Delaware that same month, with Michelle Quan and Edward Lee of Neuron listed as executives, then registered at the same address in Irvine in September 2020.

Alpha Wolf +

Alpha Wolf +

Under the new incarnation, Michael Adam Smith – a financial advisor – stepped in as executive officer. And in a Statement of Information to California in January 2021, the company lists another Lee, Kevin Lee (signed), as CEO, with Michelle Quan as secretary, CFO, and agent.

There are more than a few things that don’t quite pass the sniff test. One publication accompanying the video uses peculiar language for an EV startup, stating that the Wolf is “a versatile pickup truck powered by a battery-only system.” It said the company “will accelerate vehicle development by automating the latest digital efficiencies” and mentioned “precise virtual validation” enabled by the AMD Threadripper Pro.

No, this is not a manufacturing system or a robotics solution; The Threadripper Pro is a high-end processor for gaming and design workstations that is potentially worth less than the design software – like Catia – needed to design a complete electric vehicle.

Neuron and Alpha are not related at all. Haha.

Despite all the similarities – remember, the same office location and everything – Alpha Motor Corporation assured Green Car Reports in an email response that it had nothing to do with Neuron EV and that the Wolf was not based on an existing production vehicle , neither current nor earlier. It was also stated that it is not being funded by Gang Zheng.

The most disjointed part of the Alpha Wolf concept video launch is the coffee guys Boyt and Lijewski. They spoke to a “we” consistently enough to indicate that they are part of the automaker.

Lijewski and Boyt present Alpha Wolf electric truck

Lijewski and Boyt present Alpha Wolf electric truck

Calls to Boyt’s consulting firm, which apparently mainly serves coffee customers, went unanswered. The company then replied to Green Car Reports late Wednesday with the following finding: “Joshua Boyt and Jay Lijewski are representatives of the Move Humanity movement of Alpha Motor Corporation. “Move Humanity” is an initiative to build a community that supports positive change and supports other relevant causes through innovation. “

“The company first connected with Jay and Josh through an event to raise awareness about the humanitarian crisis in Yemen,” added Alpha.

From Yemeni coffee to the short circuit

Both Alpha and the new version of Neuron are listed by the California Office for Employment Development with an unknown number of employees.

We have asked Alpha four times since February for more information about the company and its officers. We know at least one of these messages was received because we were added to a mailing list.

It is not uncommon for electric car startups to go into what is known as “stealth mode”, in which the company is very reluctant to work on start-up financing in order to present an initial concept and business plan. The difference is that the company has already presented seven vehicles in detail and one is exhibited as a physical concept in a renowned car museum.

Yes, it’s great that a startup is making giving back part of the culture. But where are the company’s resources and employees? In China? Who are these US managers? Do you have more money than Neuron? Or do they rely on crowdfunding of a nostalgic looking design only to find out how difficult it really is to deliver a vehicle?

Alpha Wolf Concept - Alpha Motor Corporation - August 2021

Alpha Wolf Concept – Alpha Motor Corporation – August 2021

The Petersen Museum has confirmed that the concept has been accepted and will be on level 2 of the building by November. The museum, which instantly gives legitimacy to Alpha by showing the concept, has not yet responded as to whether Alpha Motor has been reviewed as part of its adoption. Further questions from us to the company about Petersen’s PR agency – about a publication by Alpha – have not yet been answered. This is an unusual way of introducing a company.

We don’t know about Quan or Lee and their ability to design or build vehicles, but given the evolution of past EV startups, time and reputation are ticking.

Based on the footage and firsthand review, here’s what we know about everyone we’ve met who’s associated with Alpha Motors: They make a hell of a cup of coffee.

Will Alpha Motors promote the retro-cute EV type different automakers have shunned within the US?

The flood of EV startups enables car designers to do very exciting work. While mainstream automakers produce endless crossovers with the same predictable truck-inspired design, Alpha Motors’ idea for a “crossover” is more like a vintage rally car than a modern electric vehicle.

Launched earlier this month, the Alpha Motors Jax is the latest in a line of tiny, retro-cute electric cars. Most of these cars won’t be available in the US, but Alpha Motors is an American company (based in Irvine, California). Maybe the Jax is a retro EV that we won’t miss. If Alpha Motors can get it into production, then it will.

The Jax, short for “Junior All-Terrain Crossover”, shares a basic platform and design with Alpha Motors’ Ace Coupé. Changes include a sturdy roof rack, front and rear push rods, and chunky tires. While the Ace is a proper two-door coupe, the Jax also appears to have a set of rear half-doors – much like the Mazda RX-8 sports car from the early 2000s.

The Jax is offered with single-engine front-wheel drive or twin-engine all-wheel drive and can go from 0 to 60 mph in 6.5 seconds, according to Alpha Motors. A 75-kilowatt-hour battery offers a range of 250 miles, according to the company. Alpha Motors also offers 62.5 cubic feet of “combined storage” (the car has a frunk) and a towing capacity of 1,850 pounds.

Alpha Motors Jax

In contrast to the retro exterior, the four-seat interior is reminiscent of the minimalist look of the Tesla Model 3 with a large central touchscreen and a digital instrument cluster on an otherwise bare dashboard. However, you won’t see any fabric door handles in a Tesla.

Alpha Motors is hoping the US will finally get a retro electric city car after missing out on that Honda E. and the latest Fiat 500e. The Renault 5 is expected to return as an electric car as well, but it’s a long way for the US

However, Alpha Motors is still a startup that hasn’t built a single car. So the Jax is far from safe.

Alpha Motors is currently taking reservations for the Jax, which will start at around $ 38,000, but has discussed a production schedule. This uncertainty is typical of the many EV startups that want to challenge established automakers.