SHANGHAI/HONG KONG (Reuters) – China Evergrande New Energy Vehicle Group started its first mass production on Thursday, two sources with direct knowledge of the matter said.

Mass production for its inaugural Hengchi 5 sport-utility vehicles at its Tianjin production facilities came 12 days ahead of schedule, the people said, and the firm plans to hold an official ceremony in the next two weeks.

The firm, a major unit of cash-strapped property developer China Evergrande Group, has been struggling to secure external investment for its operations.

Evergrande NEV declined to comment.

Evergrande has introduced several EV models, but the rest have yet to enter mass production.

The EV firm said in November it had been negotiating with potential buyers regarding the disposal of some assets and talking to potential investors about funding.

(Reporting by Zhuzhu Cui in Shanghai and Clare Jim in Hong Kong; editing by Jason Neely)