(Yicai Global) Jan. 27 -- Chongqing Changan Automobile Co. wants to work with internet companies, will develop its new energy unit in a staged approach, and will establish presence in the middle- or higher-end electric car market, said Zhu Huarong, president of the leading state-owned automaker, indicating its cooperation with new energy vehicle firms is not aimed at manufacturing only.
Cooperation between Changan [SHE:000625] and NEV unicorn Shanghai NIO Automobiles Co. does not just focus on contract manufacturing, Zhu emphasized in an interview without elaborating further. Changan and NIO inked a strategic cooperation agreement last April, under which they will jointly develop new energy and intelligent technologies, financial news outlet Securities Daily reported.
Changan has been actively developing its NEV business. It sold 610,000 NEVs last year, up 180.9 percent annually. The carmaker will no longer offer traditional petrol vehicles after 2025, it said last October, announcing establishment of an independent NEV unit two months later.
Founded in 2014, NIO unveiled its first new electric vehicle, the ES8, last December. Priced at around CNY500,000 (USD79,000), the model is seen as a competitor to Tesla Model X. NIO hired contract manufacturers including Anhui Jianghuai Automobile Group Corp. and Guangzhou Automobile Group Co. to collaborate on the model.
NIO is viewed as an electric car company with internet genes. Its investors include internet behemoths Tencent Holdings Ltd. and JD.com Inc. It secured USD1 billion of financing last November, bringing its total funding to USD3.16 billion.