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Transport

China’s autonomous driving hopeful WeRide raises $310 million

by Chuck Martin
Article ImageTrials of a ‘Mini Robobus’ are expected later this month

Guangzhou-based driverless car startup WeRide has raised $310 million in a Series B round led by Yutong Group, a leading manufacturer of commercial vehicles, including electric buses.

WeRide plans to conduct fully autonomous tests in 2021 in collaboration Yutong, including ‘Robotaxi’ and ‘Mini Robobus’ services.

“In 2021, more leading investors and partners are joining us, bringing in their strategic resources to fulfill the goal of commercializing self-driving technology,” Tony Han, founder and CEO of WeRid, said.

“WeRide is capturing the upward trend in the development of AI-empowered mobility industry, and further accelerates R&D and the commercialization of our technologies. We will strengthen the stability and safety of self-driving systems, operate our services while adhering to regulations, and strive to bring more self-driving products to the market.”

No hands

Rather than manufacturing vehicles, WeRide develops software and sensors for car makers and mobility platforms.

The company has been focused on developing self-driving tech in Guangzhou, having launched a publicly accessible Robotaxi service in the downtown area in 2019.

This month, WeRide plans to trial its Mini Robobus in the business and commercial districts on Guangzhou International Bio Island.

The latest financing round was led by Yutong, with participation from CMC Capital Partners, CDB Equipment Manufacturing Fund, Hengjian Emerging Industries Fund, Zhuhai Huajin Capital, Flower City Ventures, and Tryin Capital. Existing investors joining the round included Qiming Venture Partners, Sinovation Ventures, and Kinzon Capital.

“CMC has conducted in-depth research on the self-driving sector, and we firmly believe that this technology will be a game changer in the smart mobility market,” Ruigang Li, founding partner of CMC Capital Partners, said.

“Self-driving technology, like new energy vehicles, will rise to become one of the popular themes of the equity market. National guidelines have been announced to facilitate the development of this sector, and we are looking forward to helping industry leaders such as WeRide to exploit market opportunities and develop various scenarios for the application of its technologies. CMC will also seize this opportunity to dive into sectors such as AI, big data, sensor technologies, robotics, and electro-mechanics.”

Among others, WeRide is collaborating with the US car manufacturer Karma Automotive – which is developing electric vehicle platforms with self-driving capabilities for customers who want to build a car, but are concerned about the time and cost of developing their own bespoke electric platforms.

“WeRide’s L4 self-driving technology adapted in Karma’s E-Flex Van demonstrates our powerful solutions to bring safe and cutting-edge autonomous vehicles across different models for different purposes,” Yan Li, co-founder and CTO of WeRide, said back in September.

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