© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The logo of China Evergrande is seen at China Evergrande Centre in Hong Kong, China December 7, 2021. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

HONG KONG (Reuters) – China Evergrande New Energy Vehicle Group Ltd said on Tuesday it would start taking pre-orders for its first model, a key milestone for the unit of embattled property developer China Evergrande group.

The start of pre-orders for the sport-utility vehicle comes after Evergrande Chairmen Hui Ka Yan vowed within 10 years to shift the group’s primary business from real estate to the automobile venture, which has itself struggled for capital.

The all-electric model is the Hengchi 5. Pre-orders, which are not binding, will begin on Wednesday.

Mass production of the Hengchi 5 has been delayed to the third quarter from June, according to company executives’ recent statements. Evergrande has been reeling under more than $300 billion worth of liabilities.

Evergrande New Energy Vehicle says it aims at making 1 million vehicles a year by 2025.

Evergrande is working on a debt restructuring plan. Its electric vehicle arm has struggled to secure external investment and has negotiated with potential buyers for some of its assets.

Shares of the unit have been suspended from trading since April, pending publication of audited annual results for the 2021 financial year.

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