Itochu, a Japanese trading company, is investing in a Chinese manufacturer of electric cars. The investment is also a push to gain a better understanding of the electric car market as it continues to grow.
The trading house will buy into Shanghai-based Singulato Motors, which is valued at an estimated $900 million. It has also taken a stake in Shenzhen-based DST, which lends out electric trucks and vans.
In April, Itochu created a war chest of 10 billion yen ($90 million) for strategic investments, setting up a base in Shenzhen to seek out promising targets. Its investment in Singulato and DST is estimated at several hundred million yen each. Itochu hopes the two deals will create synergies with its existing businesses.
Singulato plans to start mass production this year. The automaker is developing functions that take advantage of connected-car technology, such as using driver performance data to update insurance premiums and adjusting the vehicle's lighting based on observations of the driver's facial expressions by internal cameras.
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