Chinese autonomous vehicle company WeRide raises $200 mln from bus maker Yutong

BEIJING, Dec 23 (Reuters) - WeRide, a Chinese startup developing autonomous vehicles, said on Wednesday it had raised $200 million from Yutong Group, the parent of bus maker Zhengzhou Yutong Bus Co Ltd (600066.SS), and the two companies would develop self-driving buses together.

WeRide, which is testing self-driving passenger vehicles in California and China's southern city of Guangzhou, did not disclose its valuation.

It said in a statement it would develop autonomous minibuses, city buses and other commercial vehicles with Yutong.

The move comes as autonomous driving companies are expanding their product lineups.

Guangzhou-based WeRide, which is also backed by the Nissan-Renault-Mitsubishi (7201.T), (RENA.PA), (7211.T) alliance, said it had developed a self-driving minibus with Yutong, which does not have a steering wheel.

The bus is bigger than Zoox's recently-launched 4-seat vehicle, which also does not have a steering wheel. WeRide's model can carry ten people and run at up to 40 kilometers per hour on open roads.

Tony Han, chief executive of the three-year-old startup, told Reuters earlier this year the company was looking to expand into different types of vehicles, including trucks.

WeRide is pursuing a level 4 autonomous standard, in which the vehicle can handle all aspects of driving in most circumstances with no human intervention.

Automakers and technology firms are investing billions of dollars in autonomous driving, aiming to take an early lead in what many consider the future of road transport.

However, some industry insiders say it will take time for the public to trust autonomous vehicles fully.

Reporting by Yilei Sun and Brenda Goh; Editing by Mark Potter

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