Baidu invests in EV start-up WM Motor
China’s equivalent to Google, Baidu, has joined the latest financing round of WM Motor. The Shanghai-based EV start-up looks to raise almost 4bn euros (30bn Yuan) ultimately.
In this latest round of financing, WM Motors has raised 12 billion yuan (1.8bn dollars) so far but hopes to find 20 to 30 billion yuan (about 4bn euros) eventually to set up its electric car production. With Baidu, a powerful investor joins the club of bidders.
China’s internet search giant has a clear strategy, which Jenny Wu, managing partner of Baidu Capital, summed up for China Money Network as follows: “Baidu is dedicated to building a new generation artificial intelligence open platform for autonomous driving in China, while WM Motor is a leader in combining AI, hardware, software and services in China.”
To further this, Baidu recently also teamed up with Chinese manufacturer JAC as they want to develop autonomous, possibly electric, vehicles together from 2019 (we reported). On top, backing start-ups is no new terrain for Baidu that holds a stake in Nio, NextEV’s electric car brand as well.
As of now, WM Motor has not produced any electric vehicles but has lately been in the news for forging new alliances in order to get going. German design studio Isdera is to help with shaping the models for example. Furthermore, the start-up is about to establish a battery JV with ProLogium Technology, a Taiwanese manufacturer of Lithium ceramic batteries. Together they seek to develop batteries for WM Motor’s electric vehicles and to start construction of a production facility by 2018 (we reported).