Chinese EV Startup WM Motor Raises $1.5 Billion in its Latest Series D Funding Round
【Summary】Backed by strong government support and inspired by the success of U.S. electric automaker Tesla in China, a new crop of well-funded EV startups is emerging. The latest well-funded Tesla challenger in China is EV startup WM Motor. The automaker announced on Tuesday the completion of its Series D round financing, which raised 10 billion yuan, the highest amount ever for a single round of fundraising launched by a Chinese EV startup.
Backed by strong government support and inspired by the success of U.S. electric automaker Tesla in China, a new crop of well-funded EV startups is emerging, including Xpeng Motors and NIO, which are now publicly traded companies on the U.S. stock market. Xpeng Motors launched its U.S. IPO in August.
The latest well-funded Tesla challenger is EV startup WM Motor. The automaker announced on Tuesday the completion of its Series D round financing, which raised 10 billion yuan (US$1,472,862,000), which is the highest amount ever for a single round of fundraising launched by EV startups.
WM Motor's latest fundraising was led by the investment platform of SAIC Motor, one of China's biggest automakers and Shanghai Municipal State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission. Alos participating in the funding was China's internet giant Baidu.
The proceeds from the latest funding will be primarily used for the R&D of intelligent technologies, brand construction, digital marketing and sales channel expansion, the company said.
As reported by China's automotive news outlet Gasgoo, WM's latest Series D funding round is likely to be the company's final fundraise before going public sometime in 2021, a source briefed on the matter said.
"The closing of the D round financing indicates that investors are upbeat about the prospect of the intelligent new energy vehicle industry, and highly recognize WM Motor's position as a technology innovation company, its long-term development strategy, outstanding core talent team and industry-leading cutting-edge technologies," said Freeman Shen Hui, WM Motor's founder, chairman and CEO.
In China, which is the world's biggest auto market, New Energy Vehicles included both fully-electric and plug-in hybrid models.
Over the next three to five years, WM Motor plans to assembly a 3,000 member team of the best engineers worldwide to rapidly develop its EV technologies and mass-produce products and digital mobility services tailored for the Chinese market. All of WM Motor's vehicles and offerings will be part of the company's overall mobility strategy called "Everything Connected."
WM Motor has two pure electric, long-range SUV's currently in production. WM Motor's first model was the EX5 compact SUV. It was launched at the end of 2018 and became the first single model released by a Chinese EV startup to exceed sales of 30,000 units, the company said.
The second model is the fully-electric EX6 Plus, which was released in Q4 2019. The EX6 Plus is a larger SUV with seating for up to six passengers.
Both vehicles are highly connected and equipped with advanced on-board software and WM Motor's in-cabin smart AI assistant ‘Xiaowei' to control most hardware and software functions using voice commands. The EX5 and EX6 Plus can also be equipped with a full suite of Level 2 Advanced Driver Assistance (L2 ADAS) functions.
Both models are built on WM Motor's proprietary skateboard EV architecture called the "Ajax" platform. The design allows for the installation of a large array of prismatic battery cells offering a maximum range of 520km (323 miles) NEDC.
Ajax's battery pack and modules are designed entirely in-house by WM Motor and include the company's proprietary Thermal Management 2.0 liquid cooling and heating system to improve their efficiency.
The WM Motor "Ajax" skateboard EV platform.
Battery cells for WM Motor's EVs are sourced from China's leading battery producer CATL and Tafel. CATL is also Tesla's battery partner in China.
Customers that purchase a WM Motor vehicle are provided one home charger for overnight charging. Drivers also get access to WM Motor's charging network, which includes over 200,000 public chargers nationwide. Charging sessions can be managed from WM Motor's GETnGO app, which provides a charging location map that allows users to search, reserve and pay for charging.
WM Motor's Founder, Chairman & CEO, Freeman Shen, was previously a board member and Group Vice President at Volvo's parent company Geely. He also served as Chairman of Swedish automaker Volvo Cars and where he oversaw Volvo's acquisition from U.S. automaker Ford Motor Co in 2010.
Freeman established WM Motor in 2015, assembling a team of leading automotive industry veterans with over 150 years of collective experience in automotive business and manufacturing.
WM Motor launched its first fully-electric EV in 2018 called the EX5.
In 2016, WM Motor began construction of its first manufacturing facility in Wenzhou, Zhejiang Province, and became the first emerging Chinese EV company to have a self-owned and operated factory. The Wenzhou facility's current production capacity is 100,000 units annually with a full capacity of 200,000 vehicles per year.
The Company's second manufacturing facility in Huanggang, Hubei Province was completed in 2019 and is expected to go online in Q4, 2020. The second facility will have an initial production capacity of 150,000 vehicles per year with a maximum capacity of 300,000.
WM Motor is headquartered in Shanghai with a global R&D headquarters in Chengdu, Sichuan Province as well as a regional headquarters in Beijing.
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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