Baidu-Backed Chinese EV Maker WM Motor Rakes In Record Funding with US$1.5B Series D

The funding will be channeled towards R&D and brand-building efforts at WM Motor

Chinese electric vehicle (EV) maker WM Motor has completed a hefty Series D round, bagging RMB10 billion (US$1.5 billion at current rates) in what is one of the biggest venture capital investment rounds so far this year, the company announced in a statement today.

The Series D round is the second-largest fundraising round to have taken place within the automotive industry in China, following RMB11.1 billion (US$1.6 billion) raised by Chinese automotive company BAIC’s EV unit BJEV through a Series B round in 2017, according to Crunchbase data.

Investors in the round included an array of local and international investors, industrial investors, national funds, and venture capital funds. The round was co-led by a Shanghai state-owned investor group, including state-owned automotive company SAIC Motors, the statement said.

Further, the company’s existing backers, Chinese Internet conglomerate Baidu and U.S.-based Susquehanna International Group, returned to invest in the Series D.

They were joined by Yangtze River Industry Fund, State Development & Investment Corporation, Guangzhou Finance Holdings Group, Sino IC Leasing, Tsinghua Unigroup, Hongta Security, Agile, and Yingke Capital, in addition to other Chinese state-backed investors from Anhui, Jiangsu, Hubei and Hunan, the statement said.

“The completion of the D round of financing reflects investor optimism about the prospects of the smart new energy vehicle industry, as well as their recognition of WM Motor’s long term development strategy, outstanding core team and industry-leading, cutting-edge technology,” WM Motor Founder, Chairman and CEO Freeman Shen said.

WM Motor’s Series D investors are also “actively cooperating” with the company in building a “new, integrated ecosystem of industrial investment” geared towards frontier technologies, including 5G, autonomous driving, and epowertrain systems, the statement noted.

The funding will be utilized towards bolstering WM Motor’s investments in intelligent technology R&D, brand building, and digital marketing and brand channel expansion.

The company will be building a global team of 3000 engineers to augment its technological capabilities and solutions, and drive competitive mass-production and pricing, based on WM Motor’s long-term plans to make vehicles that are ‘Everything Connected,’ the statement said.

These high-quality smart mobility solutions will be based on WM Motor’s insights into consumer behavior and road conditions specific to China, the statement said.

Further, the company will also focus on brand building and marketing channel expansion through its ‘Thousand Cities, Thousand Locations’ strategy. The strategy implements diversified touchpoints between the customer and the WM Motor brand, the statement said.

Prior to this round, the 2015-founded WM Motor had last raised RMB3 billion in its Series C round of funding in 2019. The round was led by Baidu, with participation from government fund manager Taihang Industrial Fund and China-based venture capital firm Linear Venture.

The company is also reportedly heading for an IPO on Nasdaq-competitor Star Market, with a targeted valuation of $4.3 billion, according to EqualOcean.

WM Motor’s Series D round is one of the largest funding rounds to have taken place this year, and is one of six startup fundraising rounds to have crossed $1 billion so far.

Other Chinese companies to have raised substantial amounts this year are edtech company Yuanfudao with $1 billion in funding from a Series G round, proptech platform Beike’s $2.4 billion Series D round, and DiDi Chuxing’s bike-sharing spinoff Qingju’s $1 billion venture raise.

With the addition of Indonesian ride-hailing startup GO-JEK’s $1.2 billion fundraising round raised in the second tranche of the company’s Series F, four of the six billion-dollar funding rounds this year have emerged from the Asia Pacific region.

The other two companies to have pocketed substantial funding amounts this year include American self-driving vehicle maker Waymo’s $2.25 billion venture investment, and a $1.78 billion venture round by Epic Games, the U.S.-based developer of the popular game Fortnite.

Header image courtesy of WM Motor

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