AutoX has raised an undisclosed amount of Series Pre-B funding and has teamed with Fiat Chrysler (FCA) as the self-driving startup looks to ramp up robotaxi services in China and Asia.

Why it matters: The round makes AutoX one of the biggest self-driving companies in Asia and will support the firm’s aggressive plan to deploy robotaxi services in the first-tier cities of Shanghai and Shenzhen.

  • The funding comes only three months after the company closed a $100 million Series A led by Chinese automaker Dongfeng Motor.
  • Other investors included Silicon Valley’s Plug and Play China fund, and Alibaba Entrepreneurs Fund, a Hong Kong and Taiwan-based investment program from the e-commerce giant.

Details: Shenzhen-based AutoX announced Monday the completion of Series Pre-B funding running into “dozens of millions of US dollars,” led by Jumbo Sheen Enterprises Group, an equity investment fund manager focused on artificial intelligent, fintech and medical services.

  • The round closed last December, with new investors including a Shenzhen-based energy trading company called IMT. Existing backers were uninvolved in this round of investment, the company told TechNode on Monday.
  • The firm will use the proceeds to deploy robotaxi pilots in significant cities, including Shanghai and Shenzhen. It received limited testing licenses from local authorities late last year but is not permitted for passenger transport yet, the company said.
  • The AV startup has also partnered with FCA for the Asian market, with a plan to roll out a fleet of Chrysler Pacifica vans for driverless ride-hailing in China this year.
  • The Italian-American automaker is also planning to license AutoX’s full-stack self-driving solution for its vehicles in China and beyond, the two companies announced earlier this month.
  • “Full-stack” refers to a package solution including those related to sensors, machine-learning software, and control mechanics.

Context: Recognizing that the arrival of fully autonomous vehicles has been slower than first thought, global OEMs and Chinese startups are scrambling to team up amid technical, regulatory, and business challenges to remove humans from behind the wheel.

  • Sequoia-backed Pony.ai has forged alliances with China’s GAC, Toyota, and Hyundai. At the same time, WeRide unveiled a fleet of Nissan electric vehicles in Guangzhou in November as part of an investment deal with Alliance Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi.
  • Pony.ai and WeRide have raised a total amount of funding of around $280 million and $90 million to date, respectively.

Self-driving startup AutoX wins backing from Dongfeng, eyes China market

Jill Shen

Jill Shen is Shanghai-based technology reporter. She covers Chinese mobility, autonomous vehicles, and electric cars. Connect with her via e-mail: jill.shen@technode.com or Twitter: @yushan_shen

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