Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Invests in Chinese Autonomous Tech Startup

The Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance is making an unspecified investment in WeRide.ai, a Chinese startup company specializing in autonomous vehicle technology.

The outlay, which was made through the partnership’s new Alliance Venture mobility tech fund, makes it WeRide’s lead investor in the startup’s first round of financing. Pre-A round investors include several venture capital firms.

Guangzhou-based WeRide (formerly JingChi.ai) was formed in early 2017 by CEO Tony Han, who previously was the chief scientist of Baidu Inc.’s autonomous driving unit. Other WeRide executives have experience at Cisco, Google, Microsoft, Siemens, UCAR and Velodyne.

With the new funding, WeRide plans to deploy a test fleet of 500 Level 4 autonomous vehicles next year in Guangzhou and Anqing. The company says it has accumulated more than 60,000 km (37,000 miles) of data from earlier trials.

WeRide has more than 200 employees worldwide, of whom 70% are engineers. The company aims to commercialize its Level 4 technology—supported by 5G communications—in vehicles early next decade.