Manufacturing News

Tencent-backed EV maker hires BMW execs

A Chinese electric vehicle company backed by Tencent Holdings and Foxconn Technology Group has hired a team of managers from BMW AG's i subbrand, according to people familiar with the matter.

Dirk Abendroth, Benoit Jacob and Henrik Wenders will join Future Mobility Corp. as vice presidents of software and connectivity, design, and marketing, according to the sources.

The executives will join Carsten Breitfeld, the former project manager for BMW's i8 plug-in hybrid sports car, who was hired as Future Mobility's CEO.

Future Mobility, which also counts dealership group China Harmony New Energy Auto Holding as a shareholder, is one of several EV startups that have drawn investments from technology companies in China as the government seeks more innovation within its auto industry.

Policymakers have designated EVs and plug-in hybrids as a strategic emerging industry that needs support.

Michael Rebstock, a spokesman for BMW, declined to comment.

Representatives for Future Mobility and Tencent did not immediately respond to emailed requests for comment. Abendroth and Wenders wrote in emails that that they are joining Future Mobility, while Jacob did not reply.

Chinese EV startups are competing for experienced auto executives and Silicon Valley talent as they develop connected, highly automated vehicles.

NextEV Inc., founded by Chinese Internet entrepreneur William Li, has appointed Padmasree Warrior to lead its U.S. operations. Warrior is the former technology chief of Cisco Systems Inc.

Faraday Future Inc., the EV startup backed by billionaire Jia Yueting, hired Porter Harris from Space Exploration Technologies before he left the company.

Future Mobility has said it plans to create a "premium brand with Chinese roots and a global reach." Besides Breitfeld, the company has hired former Infiniti China chief Daniel Kirchert as chief operations officer.

The company will base its r&d in Shenzhen, where it's headquartered. Future Mobility also will have r&d centers in Europe to focus on powertrains and in Silicon Valley to concentrate on autonomous driving. Future Mobility also plans to have an assembly plant in China to build autonomous EVs.

Tencent is Asia's biggest Internet company, while Foxconn manufactures iPhones, iPads and other Apple products.

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