Chinese electric car maker WM Motor targets $1 billion funding round

WM Motor 威马汽车
Published on: November 19, 2019
Author: Amy Liu
  • The aspiring Tesla rival completed its series-C funding round in the first quarter of 2019, and is now looking to secure its series-D financing “hopefully in the next six months,” Chief Strategy Officer Rupert Mitchell said.
  • Brian Gu, president and vice-chairman of rival Xpeng Motors, said autonomous driving will be the “ultimate game changer” but stressed the importance of manufacturers pacing themselves.

Chinese electric carmaker WM Motor is seeking up to $1 billion in funding within the next six months as it targets one new model a year.

The aspiring Tesla rival completed its series-C funding round in the first quarter of 2019, and is now looking to secure its series-D financing “hopefully in the next six months,” Chief Strategy Officer Rupert Mitchell told CNBC’s East Tech West conference in the Nansha district of Guangzhou, China on Tuesday.

WM will be launching its new model, the EX6 SUV, at the Guangzhou Auto Show on Friday. Since going into mass production just over a year ago, the company now has over 20,000 cars on the road manufactured out of its facility in Wenzhou.

Mitchell told CNBC’s Arjun Kharpal that WM is closing in on completing construction of its second manufacturing facility in the Hubei province of China.

“We’re targeting a new product launch every year for the next several years,” Mitchell said.

“A key excitement for us in the next six months is the second generation of our ‘living engine’ operating system. We’ve got our operating system incorporating machine learning around the WM ID, and some very interesting social features that we are incorporating with the second generation.”

Autonomous driving a ‘game changer’

There were also bullish sounds from fellow Chinese electric vehicle manufacturer Xpeng Motors, particularly on the subject of smart vehicles and automation.

The company, which is backed by Alibaba and Foxcomm, recently secured a $400 million series-C funding round of its own, taking on smartphone-maker Xiaomi as a strategic investor in the process.

Xpeng will launch a price range and interior for its second model, the P7, at the Guangzhou Auto Show on Friday.

Brian Gu, president and vice-chairman of Xpeng, said autonomous driving will be the “ultimate game changer” but stressed the importance of manufacturers pacing themselves, suggesting it would be “years” before fully driverless cars were commercialized.

“The next car we are introducing to the market will be equipped with autonomous driving levels that is actually full level three, which means for familiar routes, you will be able to have the car pilot and drive itself.”

Although regulations still stipulate that the driver must be behind the wheel and able to resume control, Xpeng is hoping to equip the P7 with full level three automation features by the second half of 2020, Gu told the panel.

“With that road map over the next two or three years, hopefully with advancement in algorithm, with the sensor technology, and also more data we collect on the road, we can inch towards a more level four environment, but that will take a long time.”

Source: CNBC

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