China Evergrande Group has reportedly suspended mass production of electric vehicles (EVs) due to a shortage of new orders.
Reuters, citing sources familiar with the matter, revealed on December 2 that Evergrande’s electric vehicle unit, Evergrande New Energy Vehicle Group, has paused production at its plant in Tianjin city.
This unit started mass production of the only electric vehicle model Hengchi 5 at the plant in mid-September. It delivered its first 100 cars in late October.
Sources said that Evergrande New Energy Vehicle Group has not received enough new orders for the electric SUVs (sport-utility vehicles).
Two of the sources revealed that many employees have not been paid for October and November.
Two other sources familiar with the matter said some work is ongoing. However, Evergrande’s auto unit plans to lay off 10% of its workforce and suspend salary payments to 25% of its workers for one to three months.
Evergrande has touted its electric car unit as key to its transformation plans.
In July, Evergrande New Energy Vehicle Group said it had received nonbinding pre-orders for more than 37,000 units of the model Hengchi 5.
Evergrande Chairman Hui Ka Yan has vowed to shift its primary business from real estate to the automobile venture within 10 years. He also pledged to make 1 million EVs a year by 2025.
However, the suspension of EV mass production, if confirmed, would be the latest trouble for the Chinese debt-stricken developer giant.
Evergrande, at one time China’s largest property company, is shouldering a burden of $300 billion in liabilities. It is expected to release an offshore debt restructuring plan in December.
China is the world’s largest car market. But the automakers in the country are bracing for a downturn due to a sputtering economy, though since June, the government has introduced incentives to boost sales, such as tax cuts and subsidies.
In addition, the EV sector has also seen higher competition, with Tesla cutting prices and offering incentives in China, weighing on other competitors.