China’s WeRide Pilots Self-Driving Buses in Singapore, Gears Up for Global Reach

  • Global Expansion: WeRide, a leading Chinese autonomous vehicle company, secures licenses in Singapore, marking its push into international markets.
  • Singapore Licensing: WeRide obtains M1 and T1 licenses from Singapore’s Land Transport Authority for testing its self-driving buses on public roads.
  • Strategic Partnerships: WeRide strengthens its foothold in Singapore through agreements with local transport giants, Woodlands Transport Services and EZ Buzz.
  • Diversified Approach: WeRide shifts focus from Level 4 robotaxis to autonomous buses, navigating fixed routes at lower speeds, adapting to varied traffic conditions.
  • Singapore’s AV Development: The city-state enters the second phase of autonomous vehicle deployment, allowing AVs for passenger and utility purposes in selected areas.
  • Investment and Valuation: WeRide, valued at $4.4 billion, attracts over $1.4 billion in funding, builds relationships with Singapore’s major transport operator SMRT and local investment firm K3 Ventures.
China's WeRide Pilots Self-Driving Buses in Singapore, Gears Up for Global Reach

China’s autonomous vehicle industry is extending its reach beyond domestic borders, with WeRide, a key player in the sector, leading the way in obtaining licenses for international testing. WeRide recently disclosed that it has secured two licenses, M1 and T1, from the Land Transport Authority (LTA) of Singapore, allowing its autonomous buses to undergo testing on public roads at a larger scale. These licenses permit testing in prominent areas such as the One North tech cluster and the National University of Singapore.

This development follows WeRide’s announcement five months ago regarding the acquisition of a self-driving license to test its robotaxis on open roads in the United Arab Emirates. The company has been strategically expanding its autonomous vehicle (AV) testing capabilities, holding various levels of AV permits in the United States and China.

While some Chinese AV companies have focused on the commercial aspects of their ventures, diverting attention from Level 4 robotaxis, WeRide has taken a distinctive approach. The company is investing in autonomous buses designed for lower speeds, fixed routes, and less unpredictable traffic conditions. This strategic move aligns with the evolving landscape of AV technology and addresses practical considerations in deployment.

Singapore’s AV Evolution: WeRide’s Strategic Surge and Global Recognition

Singapore, as one of the world’s densest cities with an aging workforce, embarked on its AV journey in 2014 to address land and manpower constraints. The LTA’s measured approach involves conducting initial tests in controlled environments or “test beds.” The city-state is now progressing to the second phase, where AVs for both passenger and utility purposes are permitted to operate in selected areas.

WeRide’s licenses, particularly the Milestone 1 or M1 license, signify the authorization for AVs to test on open roads in specific areas, with safety operators retaining full control. Entering a foreign market requires extensive groundwork with regulators and business partners, a process that WeRide has diligently undertaken. The company’s investors, contributing over $1.4 billion in funding, include SMRT, a major public transport operator in Singapore, and local investment firm K3 Ventures.

On the business front, WeRide has recently entered strategic cooperation agreements with Woodlands Transport Services, one of Singapore’s largest private transport operators, and bus service company EZ Buzz. This collaboration underscores WeRide’s commitment to establishing a robust presence in the Singaporean market.

WeRide’s expansion into Singapore has not gone unnoticed, drawing the attention of high-profile figures. In March, Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong experienced a WeRide robotaxi during his visit to China, highlighting the company’s significance in the region. WeRide’s founder and CEO, Tony Han, emphasized Singapore as a “regional center” for the company’s Asia-Pacific market expansion.

As one of China’s most well-funded AV companies, WeRide achieved a valuation of $4.4 billion last year and confidentially filed for an initial public offering (IPO) in the United States in March, marking a pivotal moment in the company’s trajectory.

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Source(s): Global Village Space; GlobeNewsWire

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