China's Evergrande says it will start making electric vehicles in June

It will use technology from Saab, Koenigsegg and e-Traction

BEIJING — Chinese property firm Evergrande Group will start producing its first electric vehicles in June as part of a goal to become the world's largest new energy vehicle (NEV) company within the next three to five years, according to its chairman.

Hui Ka Yan made the comments at a conference in the eastern city of Tianjin over the weekend, according to a statement published on the company's website on Tuesday.

"The new energy automobile industry has a huge market prospect. Evergrande has completed the entire industrial chain layout in the field of new energy vehicles," Hui said.

He also said that Evergrande plans to start selling its first electric vehicle model globally "soon," which will use electric car production technology from Swedish car makers Saab and Koenigsegg, and drive systems from Netherlands' e-Traction, according to the statement.

Evergrande, China's second-largest property developer by sales, has been aggressively expanding into the automotive space in search of new areas of growth as the Chinese property market slows.

Its subsidiary, Evergrande Health, invested in vehicle manufacturer National Electric Vehicle Sweden AB (NEVS), which picked up the assets of Saab, and Chinese auto battery maker Shanghai CENAT New Energy Co this year. It is also the majority investor in Swedish super car brand Koenigsegg.

Not all of Evergrande's investments have gone smoothly, however.

Last year, Evergrande Health bought 45 percent of Chinese electric vehicle firm Faraday Future as part of a $2 billion plan but the deal eventually turned sour. The companies have since ended their legal fight.

Sales of NEV vehicles have remained a bright spot in China's car market, jumping 61.7 percent in 2018 to 1.3 million vehicles even as the overall car market contracted for the first time since the 1990s. China's biggest auto industry association predicts NEV sales to hit 1.6 million this year.

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