| 12:21 PM EST

Chinese EV Startup WM Motor Raises Record $1.5 Billion

Funding push expected to be followed by IPO in October


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$1.5 billion.

That’s how much Shanghai-based electric-car startup WM Motor has just raised in what it describes as China’s largest funding round for a fledgling EV company.

WM Motor’s EX5 electric crossover  (Image: WM Motor)

Tesla Rival?

WM Motor is a 5-year-old startup that fancies itself an eventual challenger to Tesla. The company’s two current EVs are the small EX5 ($22,100) and midsize EX6 ($35,400). 

Next up will be a larger SUV, unveiled last year as the Evolve concept, in 2021.

The company’s fourth-round funding was led by SAIC Motor and Shanghai’s investment fund. The series also attracted first-time investments by four other Chinese cities and new funding from existing stakeholders Baidu and Susquehanna International.

Carmaking Roots

Analysts says backers are betting on the WM Motor in part because of the pedigree of its executive leadership. They note that most of the team comes from the automotive sector, as opposed to the internet services arena.

Co-founder and CEO Freeman Shen, for example, is a former senior executive and board member at Geely. He served as chairman of Volvo Cars in China after Geely acquired the Swedish carmaker from Ford a decade ago.

Likewise, WM Motor’s Co-Founder Lobo Lu and Chief Technology Officer Yan Feng are alumni of SAIC.

Next Steps

WM Motor plans to use the latest investment to add engineers, broaden its retail operations and develop a connectivity platform for its vehicles.

The company also reportedly plans to float an initial public offering in Shanghai next month.