Baidu leads a $196 million financing in China’s premium car-hailing market
Online search engine Baidu leads a 700 million yuan investment in Shouqi Limousine and Chauffeur, pushing the start-up into unicorn territory.
Shouqi Limousine and Chauffeur, a Chinese car-hailing company backed by state-owned transport service group Beijing Shouqi Group, said on Monday it has raised an additional 1.3 billion yuan (USD 196 million) from investors including Baidu and Chinese smart electric vehicle maker NIO.
The amount includes 600 million yuan from a series B round led by China Minsheng Trust and 700 million yuan from a B+ round led by Baidu and NIO. Shouqi said the latest funding has propelled the two-year-old start-up to “unicorn” status – a private company with a valuation of more than USD 1 billion.
The alliance is expected to intensify competition in China’s premium chauffeur-driven car market, currently dominated by ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing with an estimated 70 per cent share of rides.
Wei Dong, chief executive of Shouqi Limousine and Chauffeur, said the new investment was more than just a financial deal because Baidu and NIO are expected to help it build a new transport ecosystem that “combines capital, smart cars, artificial intelligence and quality service.”
Following a strategic partnership inked between Baidu and Shouqi in late October, Wei said the two firms have been working to bring autonomous driving to China’s roadways by 2018.
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