Today in Guangzhou, WeRide (formerly known as JingChi.ai)—the leading Level 4 (L4) autonomous vehicle (AV) company in China—announced the completion of its latest round of financing. The strategic lead investor for this round was the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance (RNM Alliance). The follow investors included Hanfor Capital, Atop Capital, Johnson Electric, Mr. Xiaopeng HE (Co-founder of XPENG Motors), idinvest Partners, and OceanIQ. Pre-A round investor Qiming Venture Capital also participated in this most recent round of financing. The Beijing-based investment firm CEC Capital served as a financial adviser to WeRide.
WeRide aims to become the top AV company in China while gaining recognition as a world-class AV technology maker. The company is committed to realizing AV technologies in China while subverting the current norms related to cars, transportation, services, and civil engineering. This round of financing marks the first time that the RNM Alliance has invested in a Chinese company and the first time that a group of global automakers has served as a strategic investor to a Chinese L4 AV enterprise. After GM and Honda invested in Cruise, Toyota invested in Uber, and Ford invested in Argo.ai, the world’s largest automotive manufacturing group, RNM Alliance, has decided to collaborate with WeRide to promote the development and large-scale commercialization of L4 AV technologies.
CEO and Co-founder of WeRide, Mr. Tony HAN, explained, “WeRide and the RNM Alliance are cooperating not just financially, but also technologically, and strategically. This marks a major step forward for AV technologies in China. We have now officially entered stage 2.0 of AV development. WeRide will continue to lead the development of L4 AV technologies during this newest stage.
François Dossa, Global Vice President of the RNM Alliance, explained, “AV technologies are an essential component of our alliance’s new mobile service business. The member companies of our alliance will remain committed to launching AV technologies in major markets including China’s. Thus, we are very excited to have this opportunity to invest and support WeRide—a company that was created to meet the high demands of China’s markets with its independent development of cutting-edge AV systems.”
Mr. Duane KUANG, Member of WeRide’s Board of Directors and Partner of Qiming Venture Partners, explained, “As a long-term investor in WeRide, we are very pleased to see the Company make great progress with respect to technological developments, personnel training, and commercial cooperation in recent months. I am confident that this round of financing, which will support new strategic cooperation and rebranding, will lay a solid foundation for the Company’s next phase of development.”
As an existing investor, Chairman and CEO of Innovation Works, Dr. Kai-fu LEE, remarked, “WeRide is a company that can use the industry’s top technologies to change the way that people imagine transportation. The WeRide tech development team has made great strides. At present, the company is independently developing L4 AV technologies while also installing its AV technologies on already fabricated cars. WeRide’s work is representative of China’s nascent AV technologies. As WeRide comes closer to overtaking competitors in the United States, WeRide’s momentum as a developer of AV will only increase.
During this round of financing, WeRide received support from multiple strategic investors that will provide WeRide with resources, including technology-, management-, market-, and personnel-related resources. This strategic cooperation will make once-inaccessible parts of the industrial chain (both upstream and downstream) accessible to WeRide. For many, this was their first time investing in AV technologies. The support of these investors served to highlight WeRide as an industry leader with important credentials, including relevant technologies and open-road testing experience. WeRide plans to install its AV systems on 500 vehicles in 2019 to drive a total of 5 million kilometers autonomously while also establishing pilot programs with cooperation partners in Guangzhou (Guangdong Province) and Anqing (Anhui Province) that will normalize the commercialization and use of AVs.
WeRide has an experienced tech team with more than 200 employees worldwide. Seventy percent of the team members are algorithm engineers. The core management team consists of CEO and Co-founder Mr. Tony HAN; CFO, President, and Co-founder Mr. Qing LU; and CTO and Co-founder Mr. Yan LI. The team has a substantial amount of practical experience related to technology development in China and abroad. As the first company in China to conduct AV trial operations, WeRide has driven 60,000 km autonomously with more than 3,000 passengers delivered to their destinations globally and the largest number of AVs operating on open roads in China. WeRide currently has the largest AV test fleet in China with the ability to install AV equipment on already fabricated cars. WeRide pioneered the first rainstorm road test system in China and set a record by navigating a 1.5 km long tunnel without GPS service. WeRide is also the first company in China to use 5G networks to remotely control its vehicles. WeRide’s goal is to be the first company to establish AV operations in Chinese cities by 2020 and to eventually be the first company to establish large-scale commercial AV operations around the world.
WeRide was established in 2017 by Mr. Tony HAN in cooperation with a group of talented and passionate co-founders. As a leading AV startup in China, WeRide is determined to become the first company to develop L4 AV technologies (i.e. AVs that do not require human intervention) in China to provide safe, reliable, and convenient transportation options. WeRide has its global headquarters in Guangzhou, with branch offices and R&D centers in Sunnyvale, California as well as Beijing and Anqing, China.
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