After built a factory in Shanghai, 's relationship with the city, where it has its global headquarters, seemed to drift apart. But the latest move may signal that the company is upping its bets here.

NIO and Lingang Group, Shanghai's largest developer of industrial parks, signed a strategic cooperation agreement on Aug. 9 that will see the two sides collaborate on major projects, research and cutting-edge business, headquarters economy, and industrial platform establishment.

William Li, founder, chairman and CEO of NIO, and Qin Lihong, co-founder and president of the company, both attended the signing ceremony, indicating the importance the company attaches to the deal.

(4th from left, Qin Lihong; 5th from left, William Li)

The two sides will integrate the resources of the new energy vehicle industry chain, study the model of a new energy vehicle industry guidance fund, and jointly establish a research and development center for new energy vehicle innovation and technology, according to a statement.

Under the agreement, NIO will set up an R&D center at the Caohejing Science and Technology Oasis managed by Lingang Group and explore policies related to the new energy vehicle industry in the new Lingang area of the Shanghai Pilot Free Trade Zone and the industrial parks under Lingang.

Shanghai is the location of NIO's global headquarters and Lingang has been supporting NIO's development for a long time and the company hopes to cooperate with Lingang in automotive intelligent R&D, Li said.

The two sides will strengthen exchanges in the intelligent new energy vehicle industry chain, including chip supply, cross-border trade, service testing and talent pool, and jointly promote the development of China's intelligent new energy vehicle industry, said Yuan Guohua, chairman of Lingang Group.

Lingang Group was established in 2003 and is responsible for the development and construction of Lingang Industrial Zone, investment attraction and industry introduction. It is a major driving force behind Tesla's construction of the Gigafactory in Shanghai.

The company is a large state-owned enterprise group under the Shanghai Municipal State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission, which is mainly engaged in park development, supporting services and related industrial investment, and is the main developer of the new Lingang area in Shanghai Free Trade Zone.

At present, the group's development parks gather more than 10,000 customer enterprises, including many Fortune 500 companies.

In recent years, the intelligent new energy vehicle industry has accelerated in Lingang's subordinate parks, and is expected to be the first industry cluster to break through the RMB 100 billion scale among its five "RMB 100 billion" industries, Yuan said.

At present, Lingang is serving the high-quality development of the intelligent new energy vehicle industry around investment attraction, scene creation, industry-research docking and technological innovation.

The move seems to show the growing importance of local governments in China for the auto industry.

Guangdong Province on Monday released its strategic emerging industries development plan for the 14th five-year plan period (2021-2025), showing that the province hopes to have its auto manufacturing revenue exceed 1.1 trillion yuan ($17 billion) by 2025 and build an auto industry cluster with international influence by then.

As reported in CnEVPost late last month, central China's Anhui province, where NIO China headquarters is based, seems determined to become the Detroit of the East.

The province has unveiled a three-year action plan for the development of its new energy vehicle industry, saying that by 2023 it aims to have more than 10 percent of its new energy vehicle production in China and more than 70 percent of its components available nearby.