WeRide, one of China's most funded startups developing autonomous driving skills, announced Wednesday that it has raised a $ 200 million strategic round from Chinese bus maker Yutong.
Mega investments are not uncommon with companies like WeRide developing the next generation level 4 driving standard. This means that the car can handle most driving situations independently and without human intervention.
WeRide didn't announce its rating for this round, which is the first installment of its Series B round, a company spokesperson told TechCrunch.
With the new funding, WeRide will partner with Yutong, a 57-year-old company, to build autonomous minibuses and city buses and collaborate on R&D, vehicle platforms and mobility services. The partners have already jointly developed a driverless front-loading minibus for mass production. The model, which comes without a steering wheel, accelerator or brakes, is designed for use on open city streets, according to WeRide
Alliance Ventures, Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi's strategic venture capital arm, became WeRide's strategic investor in 2018 after completing the startup's Series A round, which was partially funded by Chinese facial recognition giant SenseTime.
Autonomous driving startups in China are trying to demonstrate their progress, in part to raise funding for their bleeding businesses. Alibaba-backed AutoX, for example, bravely began using driverless cars on the streets in Shenzhen. WeRide and its competitors are testing different levels of self-driving vehicles in both the US and major Chinese cities where local politics support futuristic transportation technology.
“The attitude of capital towards autonomous driving and its commercial future after the COVID-19 pandemic [in China] is changing and becoming increasingly optimistic. A lot of investments are made in this area because investors do not want to miss any potential leaders in the field of autonomous driving, ”said the WeRide spokesman. "Our Series B round aroused great interest."
WeRide's competitors include Pony.ai in the backyard in Guangzhou, AutoX and Deeproute.ai in Shenzhen, Momenta in Suzhou, Baidu in Beijing, to name a few.