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China tech

WeRide raises $600m in China's self-driving tech race

Startup deepens ties with Nissan alliance in domestic robotaxi push

WeRide says its robotaxis have completed almost 150,000 trips for more than 60,000 customers. (Photo courtesy of WeRide)

GUANGZHOU -- Chinese self-driving startup WeRide has raised more than $600 million over the last five months, with an alliance between Nissan Motor, Renault and Mitsubishi Motors contributing to the infusion, according to a Wednesday announcement.

"With the continued support of Nissan, we will accelerate the commercial use of our driverless Robotaxis in China," company CEO Tony Han said in a statement.

The latest fundraising round, which also included investors like the state-run China Structural Reform Fund, raised the company's valuation to $3.3 billion, the statement added.

Previously in 2018, WeRide raised $30 million from the Nissan-Renault-Mitsubishi alliance. The second and latest investment strengthens WeRide's ties with the alliance as it steps up efforts to commercialize Level 4 vehicles, which can operate autonomously under certain environments without driver oversight.

To date, WeRide vehicles are believed to have accumulated more than 5 million km in total mileage.

Other Chinese players have made advances in self-driving technology as well. Baidu has emerged as a leader in the field through partnerships with automakers at home and overseas. Pony.ai, which counts Toyota Motor among its investors, has launched robotaxis in China and the U.S. WeRide is looking to strengthen its cooperation with Nissan to gain an edge over competitors in the growing field.

Founded in 2017, WeRide is one of China's leading startups in self-driving technology. In November 2019, it began operating self-driving robotaxis in Guangzhou, where the company is based, completing roughly 150,000 trips for over 60,000 customers in its first year of service, according to the company.

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