Atieva hopes to start selling its first electric sedan in 2018.

By: Danny King

A Silicon Valley company headed by a couple of former Tesla Motors executives is testing its electric drivetrain and is looking to start selling a really quick sedan within a couple of years, Reuters says. Atieva, which was founded by former Tesla and Oracle employees in 2007, is running the drivetrain through its paces via a retrofitted Mercedes-Benz Vito utility van. And that van is said to be able to go from 0 to 60 miles per hour in about three seconds.

The test mule, which is known as "Edna," features a four-wheel-drive drivetrain that delivers 900 horsepower. Atieva is said to be targeting a 2.7-second 0-to-60 time for its eventual electric sedan, which seems very possible assuming the four-door will have better aerodynamics and lower weight than the van. Like the dual-motor Teslas, the Atieva drivetrain uses an electric motor at each axle.

Atieva is headed in part by ex-Tesla board member Bernard Tse and former Model S chief engineer Peter Rawlinson, and has received funding from Japan-based Mitsui as well as China's Beijing Auto. Another investor is Chinese technology magnate Jia Yueting, who has also invested in Faraday Future.

The company initially focused on battery-pack development, but is now working on a project called "Project Cosmos." Atieva is hoping to start sales of an electric sedan as soon as 2018 and unveil two electric luxury crossovers during the ensuing three years, Reuters says, citing an interview with the company.

Tse served as a Tesla Motors' board member from 2003 to 2007, but left what was known as the Tesla Energy Group energy-storage division upon Martin Eberhart's ouster as CEO. We first reported about Atieva last May, when the company was said to have about a dozen ex-Tesla employees and had been looking to hire more than 30 people.