Nio Inc, the cash-strapped Chinese electric vehicle startup, is working on a deal to bring in the Hefei city government in Anhui province as a new strategic investor.

The news emerged at a ceremony held on 25th February to mark the start of pre-production of the EC6, Nio’s new battery-powered electric coupe SUV at the JAC-Nio Advanced Manufacturing Center in Hefei.

The EC6 is the third Nio model to be manufactured at the plant. Prices and specifications are expected to be released in July, with deliveries beginning in September 2020.

Nio claims the EC6 can accelerate from standstill to 100kph in 4.7 seconds. It will come with a choice of 70kWh and 84kWh battery packs, and also its new 100kWh liquid-cooled battery pack which gives it an NEDC range up to 615km.

Nio also signed an agreement to establish its Chinese headquarters in Hefei, while also maintaining its New York Stock Exchange listing and corporate offices in the USA.

Earlier this year Nio raised US$200m through convertible notes, but losses have continued to mount and the outbreak of the COVID-19 coronavirus has caused additional operating complications. Even with this new funding, its cash would have run out of cash before the end of 2020.

In January the company delivered 1,600 cars, down by over 11% year-on-year due to the Lunar New Year holidays and the virus outbreak. This brought its cumulative sales total to 33,511 units.

According to local sources, the Hefei city government has agreed to invest more than CNY10bn (US$1.43bn) in the company to secure its long-term future.

William Li, founder and chairman of Nio, told the local China Daily newspaper he expected the two sides to finalise the deal within two months. He added: “It is good timing for Hefei to invest in us. We are like a rocket that has taken off and needs some more fuel”.