China EV Startup WM Motor Secures New Funding Led by Baidu Capital
【Summary】Chinese electric vehicle (EV) startup WM Motor Technology Co Ltd will receive a sizable investment from a group of investors led by Baidu Capital, a unit of Chinese internet search firm Baidu Inc, WM Motors’ founder and chief executive told Reuters.
BEIJING — Chinese electric vehicle (EV) startup WM Motor Technology Co Ltd will receive a sizable investment from a group of investors led by Baidu Capital, a unit of Chinese internet search firm Baidu Inc, WM Motors' founder and chief executive told Reuters.
Freeman Shen, who left Chinese automaker Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co Ltd to establish WM Motor, said the investors also include Baidu Inc, Chinese venture capitalist Amiba Capital and U.S. trading firm Susquehanna International Group LLP (SIG). Two people familiar with the matter told Reuters the figure was in the billions of yuan.
WM Motors was established in 2015 by Freeman Shen, a vice president of Chinese automobile manufacturer Geely Automobile Holdings and chairman of Volvo China. Instrumental in helping Geely acquire European car maker Volvo for $1.5 billion in 2010, Shen told Chinese media that his new EV start-up has raised US$1 billion in aggregate fundraising, however no investor names were disclosed.
So far, the automaker has raised about 12 billion yuan ($1.81 billion) during its three-year life, Shen said. However, the EV company is seeking additional investments. "The whole project probably needs about 20 billion yuan, so we have a bit more fundraising to do," he said.
The company, with design and R&D center in Shanghai, a big data center in Beijing and a technology center in Germany, plans to unveil its first mass market electric car in 2018 in China, and is considering expanding to the U.S. market at a future date.
WM Motor is targeting the mid-market, with its sedans and SUV vehicles priced at around RMB200,000 (US$29,000) or event lower, according to Chinese media reports. It is planning to launch one smart car each year in the following seven years, and is expected to have over 100,000 cars sold each year in three to four years after they are launched in 2018.
Shen said WB Motor plans to start taking orders for its first vehicle, an all-electric battery sport-utility vehicle (SUV), coinciding with the Beijing auto show in April.
Small-scale production of the SUV is slated to start during the first quarter of next year at its assembly plant in the eastern China city of Wenzhou. The plant has an eventual annual capacity of 100,000 vehicles.
Originally hailing from New Jersey, Eric is a automotive & technology reporter covering the high-tech industry here in Silicon Valley. He has over 15 years of automotive experience and a bachelors degree in computer science. These skills, combined with technical writing and news reporting, allows him to fully understand and identify new and innovative technologies in the auto industry and beyond. He has worked at Uber on self-driving cars and as a technical writer, helping people to understand and work with technology.
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