What happened

Shares of Chinese electric-vehicle maker NIO (NYSE:NIO) were falling on Thursday, after a Chinese media outlet reported that the leader of its electric-drivetrain engineering team is leaving the company. 

As of 3:30 p.m. EDT, NIO's American depositary shares were down about 11.3% from Wednesday's closing price.

A gray NIO SUV

A NIO ES8, an upscale seven-passenger electric SUV. Image source: NIO.

So what

Chinese business-media outlet 36Kr reported that Charles Huang, the senior executive who has led NIO's electric-drivetrain development efforts since 2015, will leave the company on June 30. 

Huang is a key figure at NIO. He oversees over 200 employees charged with developing the company's battery-control systems, motors, and vehicle-control hardware and software -- all critical components of an electric vehicle. 

According to 36Kr's report, the department is being reorganized and many of its employees are being reassigned.

It's the latest in a series of signs that NIO is in turmoil amid a scramble to raise new cash. 

Now what

NIO has been struggling to stay afloat. It said on March 18 that it lost $406 million in the fourth quarter of 2019. NIO was very close to running out of cash at the end of the year; it has since raised about $435 million, but it needs a larger investment to get out of survival mode. 

NIO has been negotiating a larger financing deal with a city government in China. But nothing is signed as of now. If Chinese electric-car sales don't pick up soon, NIO -- and its investors -- may run out of luck. 

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