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NIO's customer experience center in Beijing
 
NIO Capital to raise $500 million for auto investments
Reuters | 2017/12/1

HONG KONG -- NIO Capital, an investment firm founded by electric vehicle maker NIO, is negotiating with prospective investors to raise up to $500 million (3.2 billion yuan) to invest in the auto sector, sources said.

The fund will complement NIO¡¯s Chinese investments by focusing on foreign tech start-ups, the sources said.

The move comes as automakers and investors pump billions of dollars into China¡¯s EV sector, which is gearing up to meet production quotas that will take effect in 2019.

NIO Capital, which is based in Shanghai, was co-founded last year with Sequoia Capital and Hillhouse Capital. The firm is preparing to find investment projects for its 10 billion yuan ($1.5 billion) fund in China, a process that it expects to complete in the next two years.

The new fund would allow NIO Capital to invest outside mainland China. NIO Capital declined to comment on its plans for the new fund.

NIO is backed by tech behemoth Tencent Holdings, and next month it will introduce its first mass-production light vehicle -- the ES8 all-electric, seven-seat crossover. 

The company also has vowed to introduce an autonomous electric car to the United States by 2020.

Ian Zhu, a partner at NIO Capital, said the firm¡¯s primary aim was to invest in electric vehicles, batteries and lightweight materials. ¡°These are once-in-a-generation (investment) opportunities,¡± he said.

NIO Capital also is looking for investment opportunities in self-driving technology.

¡°There is a strong demand for self-driving cars,¡± Zhu said. ¡°As long as the price is reasonable, people are willing to pay to make cars into autonomous driving vehicles.¡±

Zhu expects autonomous vehicles will account for 20 percent of the global auto market over the next five to 10 years.

So far, NIO Capital has invested 2 billion to 3 billion yuan ($303 million to $455 million) in 15 start-ups. Investments include Momenta, a Beijing-based self-driving startup, and Shouqi Limousine & Chauffeur, a Chinese car-hailing operator.

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