February 1, 2016 / 8:47 AM / 4 years ago

CORRECTED-Hon Hai, Tencent electric car venture hires former BMW executive as CEO

(Corrects spelling of “Kirchert” in paragraph four)

BEIJING, Feb 1 (Reuters) - A former BMW AG executive will lead the electric car joint venture of Taiwan’s Hon Hai Precision Industry Co Ltd, China’s Tencent Holdings Ltd and China Harmony Auto Holding Ltd, the company said on Monday.

Carsten Breitfeld, who according to his LinkedIn profile was until recently a BMW vice president for development of the i8 hybrid sports car, will become chief executive officer of Harmony Futeng Internet and Intelligent Electric Vehicle Company, it said in a statement.

Harmony Futeng, launched last March, is one of several Chinese tech companies trying to develop “smart” and electric vehicles. These include Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, Baidu Inc and Leshi Internet Information and Technology Corp Beijing, recently rebranded as LeEco.

Harmony Futeng said Daniel Kirchert, a former Nissan Motor Co Ltd executive, will join as chief operating officer. Previously, Kirchert headed Nissan’s Infiniti joint venture in China with Dongfeng Motor Corp and before that he was with BMW’s joint venture with Brilliance China Automotive Holdings Ltd.

China’s government is promoting electric vehicles to cut the smog that frequently envelops cities, helping sales quadruple last year and turning it into the world’s biggest market, according to officials. Less than 1 percent of passenger cars now run on so-called new energy.

China’s government predicts production of electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles will grow almost six times to 2 million annually by 2020. (Reporting by Paul Carsten; Editing by Miral Fahmy)

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