Chinese internet giant Baidu is continuing its push into the automotive space after it led a RMB 1.3 billion ($195 million) Series B investment in Shouqi Limousine & Chauffeur, an offshoot of the state-owned Shouqi Group which was Beijing’s first licensed ride-hailing app.
NIO Capital, the investment arm of billion-dollar electric car startup NIO, and Silk Road Huachuang joined the round, which added RMB700 million (US$105 million) to an original RMB600 million (US$88 million) Series B announced in July.
Shouqi Limousine & Chauffeur does just as the name implies. It competes with ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing but differs in its approach — preferring to own its fleet of cars rather than encouraging drivers to own provide a vehicle themselves, the approach that Didi, Uber and others favor.
Right now, Shouqi claims a fleet of 60,000 cars which cover 53 cities and districts across China. The business has more than 20 million registered users, of which 2.4 million are active, it added. Those figures are dwarfed by Didi — which claims over 450 million users — but Shouqi said its limousine and chauffeur business has seen success thanks to the fact that it adheres to China’s ride-hailing regulations.
Now with this funding it plans to go after the electric vehicle market with help from Baidu — which operates the Apollo self-driving car platform — and NIO’s experience and platform. It also plans to go after ring artificial intelligence into its service using Baidu’s DuerOS platform and NIO’s smarts.
Shouq was valued at $750 million when it closed the first portion of the round in July but there’s no update on that figure following the closure of this second installment.