Chinese autonomous driving company WeRide.ai has confidentially filed for an IPO in the US, with reports suggesting it could raise as much as $500m. The robotaxi operator’s nemesis, Pony.ai, was also looking to go public in the US in 2021 but put its plan on hold due to concerns that it would become the next target of a crackdown on Chinese tech firms by US regulators. WeRide’s latest valuation stands at $4.4bn following a funding round in March 2022.
China’s autonomous driving firms have attracted hefty investment in recent years, but investors have not been able or willing to fund the late-stage expansion needed for some to build their fleets. Such companies may need to access the public market for capital, despite concerns about the regulatory environment in the US, particularly with regard to accounting practices and data security.
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Despite these concerns, the resumption of US-bound China IPOs may be in sight, following the February listing of Chinese lidar maker Hesai on Nasdaq. WeRide appears to have resolved any data security concerns over the planned IPO, with Bloomberg reporting that “the company will outsource data collection to an entity that won’t be part of the planned US listing”.
WeRide, which has raised more than $1.4bn to date from investors including Bosch and China’s state-owned carmaker Guangzhou Automobile Group, declined to comment when approached by TechCrunch about the IPO.