NextEV, maker of the Nio EP9 electric supercar, is set to receive investment funding led by Chinese search engine giant Baidu, as the latter expands beyond its core business areas of web search and advertising, as tighter regulations and competition from the likes of Alibaba weigh down on Baidu’s sales, according to a Reuters report.

“We can confirm that Baidu has led investment in this round of funding,” a spokeswoman said in comment to Reuters. The spokeswoman did not name any of the co-investors or an investment figure, however the news agency quoted local Chinese media as saying that the overall funding round was valued at up to US$600m (RM2.65 billion).

This outlay will be the first for Baidu Capital, a 20 billion yuan (RM12.83 billion) set up by Baidu for mid- to late-stage deals in the internet sector. The Reuters report also adds that NextEV already has backing from Tencent Holdings Ltd and Hillhouse Capital, and the financial backing will go towards new models such as the Nio Eve MPV concept.

The China-based company also plans to develop other all-electric models, including SUVs, MPVs and sedans. The company’s SUV is due later this year, and will have a 70kWh battery pack for a range of 531 km and performance “as good as or better than the Tesla (Model X) but cheaper,” said NextEV co-founder Jack Cheng.

The company made its mark in performance motoring circles when it clocked a Nurburgring Norschleife lap time of 7:05.12, surpassing the likes of the Nissan GT-R Nismo which charted a time of 7:08.69, while the Dodge Viper ACR did a lap in 7:12.13. The next quickest electric car, the Toyota PV E002, was 20 seconds behind the EP9’s ‘Ring time.