Chinese WeRide Makes First Acquisition, Self-Contained Trucking Company
Robotaxis WeRide traveling in the city of Guangzhou, in southern China. The start-up began testing robotaxis in the city in 2019.
GUANGZHOU, China – Chinese driverless car start-up WeRide has made its first acquisition, an autonomous trucking company, with the aim of commercializing autonomous driving technology.
The Guangzhou-based company bought MoonX.AI for an undisclosed amount, it said on Tuesday.
Qingxiong Yang, founder and CEO of MoonX.AI, will become vice president of WeRide and dean of the company’s research institute. Over 50 MoonX.AI engineers will join WeRide.
The WeRide acquisition highlights the rapid push to commercialize driverless technology in China as competition intensifies. The firm’s competitors include other start-ups like Pony.ai and AutoX, both based in southern China, as well as tech giant Baidu.
Prior to MoonX.AI, Yang worked for the Autonomous Driving Unit of the struggling ridesharing service Didi. WeRide hopes to strengthen its team of experts with this acquisition.
“MoonX has a talented team of engineers with considerable experience in the development and commercialization of autonomous driving technologies,” Tony Han, CEO of WeRide, told CNBC. “The acquisition of MoonX allows us to build an even stronger team and attract the best talent in the industry.
WeRide will also expand its presence in China, opening a new office in the Shenzhen Technology Center.
The acquisition and expansion also follows a funding round in May that valued WeRide at $ 3.3 billion.
WeRide hints at new upcoming products
WeRide is focused on creating autonomous driving systems that it can sell to car manufacturers.
The company launched a robotaxi service in Guangzhou in 2019 and opened it to the public last year. The company is also testing an autonomous bus.
WeRide claims to have completed 5.5 million kilometers of autonomous driving test miles with its robotaxis and robobus.
Although MoonX is a stand-alone trucking company, WeRide has not confirmed whether it will begin to expand into this industry.
But Han said the company was “actively engaged with partners from different industries to expand our range of services.”
He also hinted at a new upcoming product.
“MoonX’s expertise will help WeRide create another revolutionary AD (autonomous driving) product,” said Han.
WeRide declined to comment further when asked for more details.