China's Evergrande started out in real estate, but now it wants to become a major manufacturer of electric cars. After investing in existing automakers, Evergrande now plans to start production of its own line of electric cars in June, according to Reuters.
Evergrande hopes to become the world's largest "new-energy vehicle" company within three to five years, chairman Hui Ka Yan said at a conference over the weekend. "New-energy vehicle" is the Chinese regulatory term for battery-electric, plug-in hybrid, and hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles. Evergrande will likely start out selling cars in its home country, although Hui reportedly said the company will launch its first global-market model "soon."
Lacking any previous experience in car manufacturing, Evergrande will rely on partnerships to achieve its ambitious goal. In a statement, the company said it will work with National Electric Vehicle Sweden (NEVS), supercar maker Koenigsegg, and Dutch firm e-Traction. NEVS is the entity that bought the remains of Saab after the Swedish automaker's bankruptcy. Evegrande bought a majority stake in NEVS earlier this year and is also the majority investor in Koenigsegg.
Evergrande previously took a 45-percent stake in U.S.-based Faraday Future. The deal was initially viewed as a lifesaver for Faraday as it provided the troubled startup with $2 billion to get its much-delayed FF 91 electric SUV into production. But the relationship quickly soured, and the two companies have since agreed to new terms that reduce Evergrande's role.
Faraday's history could provide an important lesson to Evergrande. The electric-car startup initially received a major investment from Chinese entrepreneur Jia Yueting and his Le Eco tech company. Jia, who is still associated with Faraday, wanted to use Faraday's expertise to make Le Eco-branded electric cars, even showing off a concept car at one point. But Le Eco eventually hit financial trouble, forcing Faraday to seek new investors like Evergrande. Like Le Eco, Evergrande is a company with no automotive experience looking to buy its way into the car business. Will it fare any better?
Only time will tell.