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WeRide, a Guangzhou, China-based developer of Level 4 autonomous vehicles, raised $310 million in Series C funding. The company, which was founded in 2017, has raised more than $600 million in the last five months.
The Series C round included participation from Alliance Ventures, a strategic venture capital fund operated by Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi, China Structural Reform Fund, a Chinese state-owned private equity fund, and Pro Capital, which manages China’s CDB Equipment Manufacturing Funds.
“Nissan has a long history of delivering leading-edge technologies in electrification and autonomous driving,” said Nissan COO Ashwani Gupta. “Human-centric technologies are at the heart of our offerings and autonomous driving is a vital part of it. As China stands at the forefront of helping define the future of mobility, we are delighted to partner with WeRide to bring even more innovative technologies and services to enrich people’s lives in China.”
WeRide maintains R&D and operation centers in Beijing, Shanghai, Nanjing, Wuhan, Zhengzhou and Anqing, as well as Silicon Valley in the U.S. WeRide launched a robotaxi service in Guangzhou in November 2019 that features human safety drivers in each vehicle. The service is open to the public and covers an area of 144 square kilometers. Since June 2020, WeRide said its robotaxi service has completed 147,128 trips with more than 60,000 passengers.
“Being a top-notch player in the automobile industry, Nissan has been a key partner of ours,” said WeRide founder and CEO Tony Han. “Throughout the past three years, they have been playing a critical role in supporting WeRide’s autonomous driving platform, hence, enabling us to establish a leading fleet of robotaxis. Being the first of its kind, the fleet has been providing a safe autonomous driving service to the public for over 18 months thus far. With the continued support of Nissan, we will accelerate the commercial use of our driverless robotaxis in China.”
WeRide’s vehicles have autonomously driven more than three million miles and is moving forward with the commercialization of its driverless robotaxis and Mini Robobus. WeRide claims to be the first company in the world to hold driverless test permits in both China and the U.S.
Chinese company AutoX is one of WeRide’s main competitors. In January 2021, AutoX opened up its fully driverless robotaxi pilot program to the public in Shenzhen. This is the first time the general public in China can book a ride in a robotaxi that doesn’t have a safety driver. AutoX won a 2021 RBR50 Robotics Innovation Award for this development.