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Electric cars in China

Chinese startup NIO smartens electric cars with big tech's help

Tencent and others bet on the young automaker's IT-driven approach

Chinese startup NIO's electric ES8 sports utility vehicle. The car is equipped with smart features developed in collaboration with shareholders Tencent Holdings and Baidu. (Photo by Yu Nakamura)

GUANGZHOU -- Chinese startup NIO has raised about $2.2 billion from Tencent Holdings and more than 50 other investors as these companies put their heads together to develop information technologies for "smart" electric cars.

NIO was founded in 2014 and is aiming to sell its first mass-produced offering, the ES8 sports utility vehicle, this year. The company is building its first factory in Shanghai and already has a team of 5,000 engineers at its research center.

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