( 01/14/2021 ) WeRide, China’s leading L4 autonomous driving mobility company, announced that it raised a total of USD 310 million in Series B funding after completing Series B2 and B3, marking the first funding in the self-driving sector in 2021. Yutong Group is the the strategic lead investor on the deal. Other investors include CMC Capital Partners, CDB Equipment Manufacturing Fund, Hengjian Emerging Industries Fund, Zhuhai Huajin Capital, Flower City Ventures and Tryin Capital. Qiming Venture Partners, Sinovation Ventures and Kinzon Capital, who were involved in the previous rounds, also participated in the funding. WeRide recently kicked off its Series C Round.
Driverless Mini Robobus Developed by WeRide and Yutong
Tony Han, Founder and CEO of WeRide, said, "In the year 2021, more leading investors and partners are joining us, bringing in their strategic resources to fulfill the goal of commercializing self-driving technology. 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. We firmly believe that this technology will make the world better for everyone."
Ruigang Li, founding partner of CMC Capital Partners, remarked on the WeRide deal that "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. Self-driving technology, like new energy vehicles, will rise to become one of the popular themes of the equity market. With an edge in core technologies and the brilliant performance of WeRide Robotaxi operation, the first of its kind in China, WeRide has made a great impact. 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."
Qiming Venture Partners was the lead investor in WeRide’s Pre-A Round and continued to participate in both the Series A and B funding. Duane Kuang, Founding Managing Partner of Qiming Venture Partners and WeRide’s Board Member, said, "Qiming Venture Partners has always been bullish on the self-driving sector in China and has been fortunate enough to participate in every round of funding for WeRide since its inception. We are glad to see the WeRide team steadily moves forward in key technologies, business models and ecosystem development. We are confident that WeRide will become a pivotal driver in transforming the way humans travel."
Dr. Kai-Fu Lee, Sinovation Ventures Chairman and CEO as well as President of its AI Institute, shared his view on Sinovation Ventures' continuous investment in WeRide: "WeRide is the seventh AI unicorn Sinovation Ventures has invested in. We are looking forward to seeing WeRide accelerate the implementation of more self-driving services, such as Robotaxis and Mini Robobuses, and firmly believe that WeRide will grow into a world class self-driving business in the era of AI and continue to lead in the smart mobility market."
Jennifer Li, WeRide’s VP of Finance, added that "self-driving technology will create a trillion USD market, and give birth to smart mobility businesses worth hundreds of billions. The top strategic and financial investors in WeRide’s Series B funding will help maintain the company’s leading position in the smart mobility sector."
In the year of 2021, WeRide will give full play to its first-mover advantage in conducting fully driverless tests, leading the way in safe and reliable driverless deployment. Utilizing its close collaboration with strategic investor Yutong Group, WeRide will begin operating its Mini Robobuses in no time. WeRide’s focus has been Guangzhou, the leading city in self-driving development. In 2021, WeRide will deploy its self-driving fleet in the Guangzhou downtown area as well as expand to other cities. Leveraging its cutting edge technology and Triangle Business Model to integrate AI technologies, car makers and mobility platforms, WeRide will be in a position to provide Robotaxi and Mini Robobuse services to increasingly more people.
Starting on January 15th, WeRide will launch trial operation of its Mini Robobuses on Guangzhou International Bio Island, covering all of its business and commercial districts. This is another important milestone after the launch of a publicly accessible Robotaxi service in Gunagzhou in November 2019. Both WeRide Robotaxis and Mini Robobuses service will be available on Bio Island.
WeRide is a smart mobility company that develops leading L4 autonomous driving technologies in China. It is the first self-driving company to obtain strategic investment from top-tier global automakers, which include Alliance Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi and Yutong Group, as well as the first in China and second in the world to obtain an official permit to test fully driverless cars on public roads.
Since its inception, WeRide has utilized strategic alliances among AI technology companies, car makers and mobility service platforms in order to achieve the goal of commercialized autonomous driving. WeRide launched the first ever publicly accessible Robotaxi service in the first-tier Chinese city of Guangzhou in November 2019, covering an area of 144 square kilometers in Huangpu District and Guangzhou Development District. In June, 2020, WeRide’s Robotaxi service became available to the public through Amap, a popular ride-hailing mobile app in China, thus entering a more mature market. A total of 147,128 trips were completed for more than 60,000 passengers during the first year of WeRide Robotaxi services.
Established in 2017, WeRide is headquartered in Guangzhou, China, and maintains R&D and operation centers in Beijing, Shanghai and Anqing, as well as San Jose in the USA. It employs a highly skilled team and has extensive domestic and international experience in R&D, business models and business operations.
About Yutong Group
Yutong Group is China’s leading commercial vehicle manufacturer, specializing in buses, construction machinery and others. In 2019, Yutong Group achieved a turnover of CNY 46.05 billion. It has been ranked among the top 500 Chinese companies for 17 consecutive years.
Yutong Bus, the core business of Yutong Group, is a leading enterprise in the new energy bus sector. The company specializes in R&D, manufacturing and sales of buses, serving various market segments including urban public transportation, inter-city transportation, tourist transportation, school buses, etc. In 2019, Yutong Bus boasted a market share of over 37% in China and more than 10% globally.
About CMC Capital Partners
CMC Capital Partners, founded by Mr. Ruigang LI in 2010, is a leading equity investment firm with a focus on entertainment, technology and consumer sectors with presence in Shanghai, Beijing and Hong Kong. Currently CMC manages three USD funds and two RMB funds with over USD 2.6 billion assets under management.
CMC Capital Partners strives to be the investor of choice for top entrepreneurs in China. Since debut, CMC has backed over 50 industry champions and emerging leaders across China in key subsectors including film, television, sports, interactive entertainment, internet media, social networks, social media, e-commerce, local service, education, logistics, supply chain, artificial intelligence, lifestyle and retail. 12 of them managed to get listed in either China or Unite States stock market, and 16 have achieved full or partial exit. Many of our portfolio companies has become today’s most influential brands in their respective sectors, including IMAX China (SEHK:1970), Star TV, iQIYI (NASDAQ:IQ), Bilibili (Nasdaq: BILI), Mango TV (300413.SZ), Kuaishou, NetEase Music, CAA, Eleme, Manbang Group, Mei Cai, Dingdong, Hongjiu Fruit, Leqee, Perfect Diary (NYSE:YSG), Neobio, Yuanfudao, Aixuexi Education, Zhangmen, NTX Technology, Clobotics, Yishou and KK Technology.
About Qiming Venture Partners
Founded in 2006, Qiming Venture Partners is a leading China venture capital firm with offices in Shanghai, Beijing, Suzhou, Shenzhen, Hong Kong, Seattle, Boston and the San Francisco Bay Area.
Currently Qiming Venture Partners manages nine US Dollar funds and six RMB funds with over $5.6 billion assets under management. Since our establishment, we have invested in outstanding companies in the TMT and healthcare industries at the early and growth stages.
Since our debut, we have backed over 370 fast-growing and innovative companies. Over 120 companies are already listed on NYSE, NASDAQ, HKEx, Gretai Securities Market, Shanghai Stock Exchange and Shenzhen Stock Exchange, or achieved exit through M&A and other means. There are also over 30 portfolio companies that have achieved unicorn status.
About Sinovation Ventures
Dr. Kai-Fu Lee founded Sinovation Ventures in September 2009. With the mission to nurture the next wave of Chinese high-tech entrepreneurs and companies, Sinovation Ventures is a venture capital firm headquartered in Beijing and operates in Guangzhou, Shanghai, Nanjing, and Shenzhen. With a unique “tech investment and artificial intelligence” model combining professional teams, international networks, and in-house AI technology experts, Sinovation Ventures, now managing over US$2 billion funds, has become one of the leading tech VC firms in China. In September 2016, Sinovation Ventures launched its Artificial Intelligence Institute led by Dr. Lee. The A.I. Institute focuses on developing technology and business solutions for enterprises, and facilitating a more open ecosystem connecting talents, industry, academic, and research stakeholders.
As a leading venture capital and entrepreneur-centric ecosystem builder, Sinovation Ventures focuses on developing early and growth stage companies in the areas of artificial intelligence, autonomous driving & robots, education, consumer Internet, B2B enterprise services, and medical. To date, Sinovation has invested in over 400 companies with 19 unicorns. Well known portfolios include: VIPKID, Zhihu, Meitu, Megvii, 4th Paradigm, WeRide, Shuidi Group, Moji Weather, IC Cast, Gaosi Education, MEWE Media, Zhuiyi Technology, Broadlink, XYLink, Animo, Molbase, Wandou, Mingyizhonghe, etc.
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