Electric vehicles

Chinese startup NextEV gets fresh cash infusion from Temasek-led group

Actual amount not disclosed by electric vehicle maker, but investors include TPG, Hopu and Lenovo

PUBLISHED : Friday, 01 July, 2016, 6:27pm
UPDATED : Friday, 01 July, 2016, 6:27pm

NextEV, the Chinese-backed electric vehicle start-up and rival of US-based Tesla Motors, is close to getting financing of a few hundred million dollars, according to mainland media reports.

Qin Lihong, the company president confirmed the investment on Thursday but did not specify the exact funding amount, according to news website nbd.com.cn. The latest round of funding is believed to have been led by Temasek and also has other investors like TPG, Hopu Investment Management and Lenovo Group.

It’s the latest investment to pour into the sector which is on a roll in China, the world’s largest electric car market, with more than 300,000 vehicles sold last year, more than triple the number sold in 2014.

In May, another Chinese electric vehicle startup Chehejia said it got 780 million yuan (HK$908.2 million) as Series A funding at a valuation of 2.98 billion yuan from eight investors including Shenzhen-listed Leo Group and Shenzhen Chenghong Assets Management, according to reports.

NextEV has been cash rich since it was created by Qin, a vice president at Chery Motors, a Chinese automaker, and William Li Bin, founder of China’s popular auto news website BitAuto, in 2014 in Shanghai.

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In September last year, Chinese internet giant Tencent, Sequoia Capital and Joy Capital invested roughly US$1 billion in the startup.

The company said at the time (September 2015) that it would launch its first model in 2016, which will be designed to produce more than 1,000 horsepower and accelerate from 0 to 100 kilometres an hour (62 miles per hour) within three seconds.

In April, Li said in public that the company needs to raise around 10 billion yuan in investment before the end of 2017 when the company plans to launch its first electric car in the market.

The startup has been luring employees from international carmakers, including its co-president, Martin Leach, the former CEO of Maserati and president of Ford Europe. Other big names on the board include Padmasree Warrior, the former chief technology and strategy officer of Cisco, who is the company’s chief development officer.

Danilo Teobaldi, the former chief of vehicle concepts at Italdesign Giugiaro, Juho Suh, a former senior designer at BMW and John Thomas, a former senior programme director at Tesla have also joined the Chinese startup.