The Witness - Wheels - - MOTORING -

A group of deep-pock­eted China-based In­ter­net en­trepreneurs and fi­nan­cial in­vestors, in­clud­ing Ten­cent and Hill­house Cap­i­tal, is back­ing an ef­fort to cre­ate Nex­tEV, a new ri­val to US elec­tric car maker Tesla Mo­tors.

Hill­house is also an in­vestor in Uber, the US ride shar­ing ser­vice. The back­ers have hired ex-Ford Mo­tor ex­ec­u­tive Martin Leach to build a global au­tomaker, a Nex­tEV spokesper­son said yesterday. The back­ers have also re­cruited ex­perts with pre­vi­ous ex­pe­ri­ence at Tesla, BMW AG, Volk­swa­gen AG and other ma­jor car com­pa­nies.

The Nex­tEV in­vestors are among sev­eral Chi­nese tech­nol­ogy en­trepreneurs with lit­tle or no automotive back­ground who are hop­ing to cre­ate new elec­tric car com­pa­nies. The ef­fort is sup­ported by the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment, which re­cently changed rules to en­cour­age in­vest­ment by non-automotive com­pa­nies.

Nex­tEV’s su­per­car is ex­pected to de­but in 2016. It will be de­signed to pro­duce more than 1 000 horse­power and ac­cel­er­ate from 0 to 100km an hour within three sec­onds, Liu said. A range of high-per­for­mance fam­ily cars will fol­low.

Nex­tEV is be­ing backed by Chi­nese In­ter­net com­pany Ten­cent; Wil­liam Li, founder of In­ter­net con­tent provider Bi­; Xiang Li, founder of automotive Web site au­to­, and Richard Liu, founder of e-com­merce site Hill­house Cap­i­tal, which was started with seed money from Yale Univer­sity, is also a backer, Nex­tEV said.

Nex­tEV did not want to dis­close the ex­tent of its fi­nan­cial back­ing. The com­pany will ini­tially sell only in China.

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