LeEco auto unit raises $1.08B in funding
Tue 20 Sep 2016
LeEco CEO Jia Yueting announced today that the company has raised over $1 billion in fresh financing for its LeSee Supercar project, the largest amount in automotive history.
The announcement of the most recent successful financing round was made at a televised gala event, shown on the LeEco online video platform. At the event, Liu Gang, an investor from Shenzhen Capital, said, “Le Supercar is a revolutionary business venture led by the Chinese people attempting to lead innovation in an advanced industrial sector for the first time in history. It is a symbol of China’s entrepreneurship and emergence in the world.”
Investors include Macrolink Group, Yingda Captial Managemen, and Legend Holdings, although individual investment amounts have not yet been made public.
The LeEco Supercar is known as LeSee, the Super Electric Ecosystem, and is an all-electric autonomous vehicle that has been presented by the company as a rival to Tesla. The vehicle was demonstrated to the press in April, where Jia Yueting showcased the vehicle’s self-driving and self-parking capabilities, controlling the vehicle through voice commands over a mobile device.
Since the initial announcement of the project in 2014, the project has amassed over 1,000 employees, and just last month the company announced that it would be investing $3 billion in a new automotive plant and industrial park in Huzhou City, Zhejiang. The plant is intended to produce the LeSee vehicles, batteries, and motors, as well as serving as a center for research and development for automotive technology. Construction is slated to start early next year, and once completed, the plant is expected to have the capability to produce 200 – 400,000 electric cars per year.
However, concerns have been raised in the media due to the fact that LeEco does not currently have a license to produce electric vehicles in China. LeEco has stated that the company has applied for the appropriate permits and that approval is pending, but to date, it has not yet received the governmental permits required to begin production of electric vehicles.
In addition to placing itself in competition with Tesla, LeEco’s larger plan for the LeSee Supercar could also put it in competition with Uber China. LeEco has invested heavily in Yidao, a ride-sharing company currently holding the third-ranked spot behind Didi and Uber.