Mullen Automotive Pays Millions to Settle Lawsuit with Qiantu

David Shultz

David Shultz reports on clean technology and electric vehicles, among other industries, for dot.LA. His writing has appeared in The Atlantic, Outside, Nautilus and many other publications.

Mullen Automotive Pays Millions to Settle Lawsuit with Qiantu
Image Courtesy of Mullen Automotive

Like a zombie from the grave, Mullen Automotive’s electric sports car grift lives once more. Earlier this week, the Southern Californian company announced that it had resolved its contract disputes with Chinese manufacturer Qiantu and would begin to “re-design” and “re-engineer” the DragonFLY K50 platform for sale in the United States.

On the surface (or if you just read the press release) this would seem to be excellent news for the Californian EV startup. But the saga of the Mullen/Qiantu partnership is long, and in the context of their shared history, the deal’s terms look considerably less favorable for Mullen.

Back in May 2019, after months of negotiations, Mullen entered into an agreement with Qiantu. As part of that deal, Mullen agreed to buy DragonFLY K50 “kits” from the Chinese manufacturer and assemble and resell them in the United States. A short time after the deal was inked, Mullen claimed it had signed the wrong version of the paperwork, according to court documents filed by Qiantu. Instead of simply correcting the error, the documents allege that Mullen tried to use the delay to renegotiate key parts of the deal. For reasons that are unclear, Qiantu agreed to come back to the table, and a second agreement was eventually drafted with essentially the same terms, but a different payment schedule. Mullen signed the agreement and initialed every page.

The documents allege, however, that Mullen’s next move was to claim that it was again unaware of the very same revised payment schedule it had just worked to renegotiate. By August 31, 2019, Mullen had missed its very first payment to Qiantu. The Californian company would go on to default on the rest of its payments as well, despite continuing to advertise the K50 as “coming soon” on its website in subsequent months.

In October 2019, after missing its first two payments, Mullen filed a suit against Qiantu for breach of contract, again alleging that the Chinese manufacturer had sneaked in the details of the payment schedule without Mullen’s knowledge.

This suit has now been settled.

Under the terms of the agreement, Mullen will pay Qiantu $6 million, plus warrants that allow the purchase of up to 75 million shares of MULN at 110% of the price of the common stock. These warrants are exerciseable for one year, starting in September 2023.

There’s also an item that stipulates that Mullen pays an additional $2 million for “deliverable items under the IP Agreement,” and another which mandates that Mullen pay Qiantu a royalty fee of $1,200 for each K-50 it manages to sell in the United States over the next five years. Finally, and perhaps worst of all for the Californian company, Mullen also agrees to buy “a certain number of vehicle kits every year from Qiantu.”

Even without the vague promise to buy more vehicles from Qiantu, the math adds up to at least $8 million that Mullen will have to pay out, not including royalties. Mullen basically went to court, wound up with the same deal, and lost millions of dollars in the process.

Making this look even worse is the fact that the K-50 is now a three-year old car. While the car still looks great and boasts some pretty legitimate specs, Mullen will still need to make sure the K-50 complies with the standards and regulations in the United States—a process that is often incredibly expensive and time consuming. So far it’s unclear how Mullen, a company that has never manufactured a production vehicle before, will tackle that challenge.

With how ragged things look from the outside, it’s hard to even predict if Mullen will exist come September.

Update: This story has been corrected to provide a more accurate description of the financial terms of the settlement between Qiantu and Mullen.

Subscribe to our newsletter to catch every headline.

LA Tech Week Day 5: Social Highlights
Evan Xie

L.A. Tech Week has brought venture capitalists, founders and entrepreneurs from around the world to the California coast. With so many tech nerds in one place, it's easy to laugh, joke and reminisce about the future of tech in SoCal.

Here's what people are saying about the fifth day of L.A. Tech Week on social:

Read moreShow less

LA Tech Week: Six LA-Based Greentech Startups to Know

Samson Amore

Samson Amore is a reporter for dot.LA. He holds a degree in journalism from Emerson College. Send tips or pitches to and find him on Twitter @Samsonamore.

LA Tech Week: Six LA-Based Greentech Startups to Know
Samson Amore

At Lowercarbon Capital’s LA Tech Week event Thursday, the synergy between the region’s aerospace industry and greentech startups was clear.

The event sponsored by Lowercarbon, Climate Draft (and the defunct Silicon Valley Bank’s Climate Technology & Sustainability team) brought together a handful of local startups in Hawthorne not far from LAX, and many of the companies shared DNA with arguably the region’s most famous tech resident: SpaceX.

Read moreShow less

LA Tech ‘Moves’: LeaseLock, Visgenx, PlayVS and Pressed Juicery Gains New CEOs

Decerry Donato

Decerry Donato is a reporter at dot.LA. Prior to that, she was an editorial fellow at the company. Decerry received her bachelor's degree in literary journalism from the University of California, Irvine. She continues to write stories to inform the community about issues or events that take place in the L.A. area. On the weekends, she can be found hiking in the Angeles National forest or sifting through racks at your local thrift store.

LA Tech ‘Moves’: LeaseLock, Visgenx, PlayVS and Pressed Juicery Gains New CEOs
LA Tech ‘Moves’:

“Moves,” our roundup of job changes in L.A. tech, is presented by Interchange.LA, dot.LA's recruiting and career platform connecting Southern California's most exciting companies with top tech talent. Create a free Interchange.LA profile here—and if you're looking for ways to supercharge your recruiting efforts, find out more about Interchange.LA's white-glove recruiting service by emailing Sharmineh O’Farrill Lewis ( Please send job changes and personnel moves to


LeaseLock, a lease insurance and financial technology provider for the rental housing industry named Janine Steiner Jovanovic as chief executive officer. Prior to this role, Steiner Jovanovic served as the former EVP of Asset Optimization at RealPage.

Esports platform PlayVS hired EverFi co-founder and seasoned business leader Jon Chapman as the company’s chief executive officer.

Biotechnology company Visgenx appointed William Pedranti, J.D. as chief executive officer. Before joining, Mr. Pedranti was a partner with PENG Life Science Ventures.

Pressed Juicery, the leading cold-pressed juice and functional wellness brand welcomed Justin Nedelman as chief executive officer. His prior roles include chief real estate officer of FAT Brands Inc. and co-founder of Eureka! Restaurant Group.

Michael G. Vicari joined liquid biopsy company Nucleix as chief commercial officer. Vicari served as senior vice president of Sales at GRAIL, Inc.

Full-service performance marketing agency Allied Global Marketing promoted Erin Corbett to executive vice president of global partnership and marketing. Prior to joining Allied, Corbett's experience included senior marketing roles at Disney, Warner Bros. Studios, Harrah's Entertainment and Imagi Animation Studios.

Nuvve, a vehicle-to-grid technology company tapped student transportation and automotive sales and marketing executive David Bercik to lead the K-12 student transportation division.