China EV Startup Future Mobility to Build $1.7 Billion Factory

Future Mobility Corp., the electric-car maker that counts former executives at BMW AG and Nissan Motor Co. among its founding shareholders, will spend 11.6 billion yuan ($1.7 billion) to build a factory in China, moving a step closer to the startup’s goal of selling its first model by 2020.

The company signed the deal with the city of Nanjing in eastern China on Thursday to build a factory, Daniel Kirchert, chief operating officer and co-founder of Future Mobility, said in a telephone interview. The factory will have an initial capacity of 150,000 units a year and subsequently double in output, he said, without providing a timeframe.

Startups in China have raised billions in funds to build factories for electric vehicles as demand surged following a push by the government to encourage their development. The government has identified new-energy vehicles as a strategic emerging industry and is issuing production licenses to newcomers to encourage innovation and competition.

Future Mobility is also talking to industry regulators about applying for a production license, said Kirchert. Eight companies including Wanxiang Group, Minth Group and Jiangling Motors Corp. have obtained the go-ahead from the National Development and Reform Commission.

Local governments in China are competing to host electric vehicle manufacturers, in some instances giving incentives like free land and multiyear tax holidays, and helping with their application for permits from the central government.

While Future Mobility has landed in Nanjing, LeEco will build a plant in Zhejiang province and Beijing CH-Auto Technology Co. has chosen eastern city of Suzhou for its manufacturing base.

The debut model from Future Mobility, which completed its first round of funding last month, will be a mid-sized electric SUV priced around 300,000 yuan, Kirchert said.

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