The electric vehicle unit of China Evergrande Group has begun accepting preorders for its first model, in what the cash-strapped property developer hopes will be the first step to recouping its hefty investments in a competitive sector.
The Hengchi 5 sport utility vehicle carries a driving range of 602 km and is priced at RMB 179,000 (USD 26,700), including a required RMB 1,000 deposit.
China Evergrande New Energy Vehicle Group said deliveries begin in October, and that the company aims to ship 10,000 vehicles by the first quarter of 2023.
The automaker also released the names of its suppliers, which include Chinese battery powerhouse Contemporary Amperex Technology, or CATL, as well as foreign players like Germany’s Bosch—the world’s top auto parts maker—and Japan’s Jtekt and industrial robot maker Fanuc.
“A lot of heart and soul went into this over the last three years,” Liu Yongzhuo, who heads the group’s EV business, said at a Wednesday event.
Evergrande announced its entrance into new-energy vehicles—China’s name for electrified cars—in 2018. The company unveiled plans in 2019 to invest RMB 45 billion over three years. It has partnered with European parts makers and acquired related intellectual property.
Its electric vehicle arm has been preparing for mass production and sales with backing from Chinese tech group Tencent Holdings and numerous other investors. But big names like BYD and Tesla already control much of the Chinese EV market, and it is unclear how Evergrande can set itself apart from the other emerging players all fighting for a piece of the pie.
Evergrande also faces headwinds in its mainstay real estate business. More would-be homebuyers are holding off as Evergrande and other major developers grapple with a cash crunch following China’s clampdown on the real estate market. A resurgence of coronavirus cases also has contributed to a long downturn in the market.