Real estate tycoon Hui Ka Yan is pushing ahead with his ambitious plan to become the Elon Musk of China by ploughing billions of dollars into electric vehicles, but the venture looks increasingly risky as funding becomes scarce and China’s slowing economy weighs on his core property business.

Hui was in Shenzhen on Wednesday to announce that Evergrande had reached an agreement with five global auto firms to jointly develop 15 new models, ranging from full-size luxury to midsize and compact sedans.

“China is poised to become a world leader in the production of new energy vehicles,” Hui said in a press release. “The agreement allows Evergrande New Energy Vehicle Group to become a major force in this development.”

Last week, Hui was in Italy meeting with executives from Pininfarina working on design proposals for a new model called Hengchi. He was also briefly in Germany this month, where he held a banquet for 60 auto executives who were attending a local trade show.

The globetrotting billionaire, who was once crowned Asia’s richest man, has been busy meeting suppliers and potential partners after failing to make good on a previous pledge to unveil a mass production model in June. The plan now is for Evergrande to begin manufacturing EVs next year, but skepticism is mounting.


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