Xiaomi-backed fund invests in autonomous driving startup Zongmu
An investment fund backed by Xiaomi is among a new slew of investors in Zongmu Technology Shanghai Co. as the Chinese autonomous driving system startup raised $190 million in its latest funding round.
Zongmu conducted the series D fundraising in three stages and Hubei Xiaomi Changjiang Industrial Investment Fund Management Co. led the third phrase of the round, according to a statement on Thursday. Japan’s Denso Corp., Fosun Capital Group, Qualcomm Ventures and a fund backed by Chongqing Changan Automobile Co. also invested in this round.
The startup is considering a listing on the Nasdaq-like STAR board exchange in Shanghai, according to Rui Tang, Zongmu’s founder and chief executive officer.
“As a high-tech firm, we for sure hope and are actively preparing for a potential initial public offering on the STAR board,” Tang said in an interview, without providing details on the listing plans.
Founded in 2013, the Shanghai-based company focuses on autonomous driving and advanced driving assistant system technologies and products, according to its website. Zongmu, which means “looking afar” in Chinese, has research and development centers in Beijing, Shanghai, Xiamen as well as Stuttgart, Germany. Its manufacturing center is in Xiamen.
Zongmu has a contract with China FAW Group Co. to provide automated valet parking systems, which have been installed in one of the carmaker’s SUV models since late last year. The company plans to roll out a full level-four AVP system this year, which allows users to send parking instructions via mobile apps and the cars will drive autonomously to the parking spots.
“The technologies involving machine vision algorithms and high precision sensors can also be applied to other scenarios such as cloud services, autonomous driving on highways,” Tang said. “All these markets provide great growth potential for our business.”
Zongmu also counts some of China’s biggest automakers such as Geely Automobile Holdings Ltd. and BAIC Group among its partners, its website shows.
The startup is one of Xiaomi’s first bets on the automotive arena since the smartphone maker announced a $10 billion plan to build electric vehicles. Xiaomi was also one of the investors weighing an investment in Black Sesame Technologies Inc., an AI chip designer for cars in China, Bloomberg News has reported.