U Power said its UP Super Board can cut development time by at least six months, ultimately reducing the cost and time to market of EV products.

( The UP Super Board on display at CES. Image credit: U Power Tech)

While electric vehicle (EV) startups are attracting a lot of attention, a lesser-known Chinese EV tech company is hoping to use its technology to help automakers accelerate EV development.

U Power Tech unveiled the UP Super Board, a skateboard chassis that serves as a vehicle foundation for automakers to accelerate EV development, at CES 2024 on January 9 in Las Vegas.

This plug-and-play technology enables automakers to design more customized upper bodies -- from sedans, pickup trucks to SUVs and vans -- cutting development time by at least six months and ultimately reducing the cost and time to market of EV products, U Power said.

The UP Super Board integrates core EV functions including electric propulsion, suspension, steering, thermal management and Level 2+ advanced driver assistance system (ADAS).

"With the UP Super Board and our business model that integrates the most comprehensive and most competitive global EV supply chain, we are empowering clients to develop electric vehicles for local markets in a shorter time with lower investment," said Paul Li, founder and CEO of U Power.

The concept of the skateboard chassis was first released in 2002 by General Motors, whose Hy-wire concept car had a chassis that took on the shape of a skateboard, with a body that could be separated from the chassis.

Since then, car companies including Canoo, Rivian and PIX Moving have launched skateboard chassis products covering different areas.

In China, there are very few players in the field, one of which is U Power, founded in 2021, whose founder Li was formerly the head of Great Wall Motor's high-end EV brand Saloon.

The other major skateboard chassis player in China is power battery giant , which announced on October 31, 2022 that it had signed a memorandum of understanding with Vietnamese EV maker VinFast to cooperate in areas including CIIC (CATL Integrated Intelligent Chassis).

On January 11, 2023, Auto, the EV brand of Hozon Auto, announced that it will collaborate with CATL on a CIIC project, with the first CIIC-equipped Neta model coming out as early as the end of 2024.

U Power is focusing on expanding internationally and has already secured its first customers.

The company has delivered the first UP Super Boards to Olympian Motors, a next-generation EV company based in New York, U Power said.

(Eren Alan Canarslan, founder and CEO of Olympian Motors (left) and Paul Li, U Power founder and CEO, pose for photos at CES.)

Olympian Motors is committed to delivering its first EVs to customers in New York, California and Florida in 2024 and expanding EV shipments to 100,000 by 2027, according to a U Power press release.

"By seamlessly integrating the UP Super Board with Olympian's modular EV architecture, we anticipate game-changing time and capital savings in our manufacturing process," said Eren Alan Canarslan, Founder and CEO of Olympian Motors.

At CES, U Power also signed a development contract for its UP Van with Detroit startup Lumos EV, based on an established strategic partnership.

(The UP Van, U Power's first all-electric van for urban logistics.)

First announced in 2023, the UP Van is U Power's first all-electric van for urban logistics based on the UP Super Board.

U Power has received more than 53,000 orders for the UP Van from customers in the North American, Japanese, Southeast Asian, European and Chinese markets, with deliveries set to begin in the second half of 2024, according to its press release.

Lumos will build its own last-mile commercial van, the Lumos LC2, based on the UP Van model, which will be sold first in Mexico in mid-2024, followed by further expansion in North America and certification testing beginning in early 2025, according to U Power.

The startup also announced partnerships with Japan's G Three Holdings, Philippine Energy industry group Alaco and Fest Electric Delivery Vehicles covering the European market.