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African born Elon Musk’s Tesla, charges up Chinese startups.

BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s electric vehicle startups are on the charge again, thanks to Tesla.

The country’s growing fascination with the U.S. pioneer’s sleek designs and cutting-edge technology is giving a string of second-wave home-grown Tesla wannabes the traction to raise more funding, expand production and boost sales.

Chinese EV startups NIO, XPeng Inc, Li Auto and WM Motor have raised more than $8 billion between them this year and now rival Aiways is planning to go public, its co-founder and President Fu Qiang told Reuters.

Speaking ahead of the Beijing auto show which starts on Saturday, Fu said the relative success of U.S. initial public offerings (IPO) by XPeng and Li Auto had helped fuel the company’s ambitions to list.

Since it was founded in 2017 in Shanghai, Aiways has raised “no more than 10 billion yuan” and it will need to secure more funding from some private equity funds and other investors, said Fu, the former head of Volvo Cars China who has also been an executive at Mercedes-Benz, Skoda and FAW-Volkswagen.

“IPO is also in our plans, and we’re planning to push ahead with it,” Fu said, adding that Aiways would most likely be listed within China, declining to elaborate further.

China has been the world’s fastest-growing EV market for years helped by generous state purchase subsidies but the sales boom started to sputter last year as Beijing began cutting back financial support and watering down other pro-EV policies.

Some prominent Chinese EV startups such as Byton and Singulato have struggled and NIO’s future looked in doubt last year. But a surge in Tesla’s market value – and its sales in China – suggest the country’s EV dream is far from over.

“As Tesla stock goes, so goes the fate for electric vehicle startups,” said China auto expert Mike Dunne. “Funds are flowing like a river in spring again. Tesla could end up pulling everyone into the future sooner than expected.”

‘JUST OUT OF THE GATE’

Tesla’s sales in China in the first eight months of 2020 have nearly tripled from a year ago to

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