Tencent, Baidu Lead $600M Round In Chinese Electric Vehicle Maker NIO

Tencent Holdings Ltd. and Baidu Inc. have led a US$600 million funding round in Shanghai-based electric car maker NIO, formerly known as NextEV, according to Chinese media reports citing insiders.

IDG Capital, American investment firm TPG, Hillhouse Capital, Lenovo Group Ltd., Singapore-based GIC Private Ltd., and a number of investors also participated in the round, which values the start-up at RMB20 billion (US$2.8 billion) post-money.

NIO was established in 2014 by Li Bin, former chairman of Chinese automobile marketing platform Bitauto.com.

The company debuted what it calls the fastest electric car EP9 last November with a lap record of seven minutes and 5.12 seconds at the Nürburgring Nordschliefe, a motorsports race route in Germany. Last week, it announced that it will launch autonomous electric vehicles NIO EVE in the U.S. market in 2020.

The start-up previously received an undisclosed amount of money from investors including Tencent, JD.com Inc., Shunwei Capital in 2015. Later in the same year, it raised a US$500 million round from Sequoia Capital China and Joy Capital.

Last year, it completed a new round worth hundreds of millions U.S. dollars from Temasek Holdings, Lenovo Capital, Incubator Group and IDG Capital. Today’s new financing round brings the company’s total fundraising to nearly US$1 billion since its establishment two years.

Earlier this month, Baidu established an intelligent driving group headed by its president and chief operating officer, Lu Qi.

The unit will enhance efficiency and coordinated development in the artificial intelligence-powered autonomous driving industry, as well as promote upgrades in the traditional automotive industry through the use of AI.

(Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that the fundraising value was RMB600 million.)