Total looks to Chinese EV market

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The Chinese electric vehicle maker whose Formula E team captured the fledgling motorsport’s first world championship has announced a partnership with French oil company Total.

The European fossil fuel giant has already made strides into clean energy and transport solutions and today announced a strategic partnership between its venture capital arm Total Energy Ventures and the NIO Capital fund management division of Shanghai-headquartered NIO, whose electric racing team is a world leader.

The new co-operation will aim to exploit the hugely promising electric vehicle market in China, where a burgeoning middle class exhibits a desire for car ownership against a backdrop of loud complaints about air quality.

A press release announcing the partnership cited an ambition to enter the EV market and develop innovative products related to autonomous driving; intelligent systems, to maximize charging opportunities; connected vehicles that will sync to other devices as part of the Internet of Things; and mobility services such as electric public transport and short-term personal transport options.

Total has settled upon a company with knowledge of the Chinese market and which already has a considerable public profile, having lifted the first Formula E championship in 2015. NIO’s EP9 became the fastest electric car in the world in 2016 and went on to set a new record for an autonomous vehicle.

The company also made headlines late last year with the official launch of its seven-seater ES8 electric SUV.