Meituan, a Beijing-based e-commerce platform that provides local life services, is now quietly laying out operations involving power batteries for the upstream new energy vehicle industry, according to a report by Chinese domestic media outlet Value Planet on September 5. Sunwoda, the leading lithium-ion battery company in China, on August 25 disclosed a convertible bond loan and related party transactions of its subsidiary, Sunwoda Electric Vehicle Battery Co., Ltd. (Sunwoda EVB). Meituan appeared on the list of investors.
According to the announcement, Sunwoda EVB signed convertible bond agreements with 12 enterprises, including Shenzhen Meizhu Meipeng Enterprise Management Consulting Partnership (Limited Partnership), referred to simply as “Meizhu Meipeng,” and CICC-GCL Carbon Neutral Industrial Investment Fund, and borrowed convertible bonds totaling 1.19 billion yuan ($171.5 million) from the above parties for the operating funds of Sunwoda EVB. It’s worth mentioning that the actual controller of Meizhu Meipeng is Zhu Yonghua, a founding partner of Meituan Industry Fund, and Wang Xing, the co-founder and CEO of Meituan, also appearing in Meizhu Meipeng’s shareholder list.
In August, Sunwoda EVB also completed round-A financing, and with the above-mentioned convertible bond loans from investors, the accumulated amount of this round of financing was about 8 billion yuan. The firm’s post-investment valuation was about 30 billion yuan. Meituan was also among the investors named in this round.
At present, Meituan conducts foreign investment mainly through Long-Z Investments, Meituan Strategic Investment and Wang Xing’s personal investment. According to its experience over the years, Meituan began to invest in automobile transportation in 2018. After 2019, intelligent hardware, automobile transportation, advanced manufacturing and other fields have become the focus of Meituan‘s investment.
In the field of automobiles and travel, since the beginning of 2022, Meituan has made three deals. In February, Meituan followed the $188-million-yuan round-B+ financing of Inceptio Technology, an automated driving truck technology and operations company. In April, Meituan led investment in round-C+ financing worth $80 million for VisionNav Robotics. In August, the firm led Sunwoda EVB’s round-A financing.
The investment layout of Meituan can cover almost the whole “life cycle” of a smart car, ranging from production to after-sales. The industrial areas of Meituan‘s investment participation include automated driving (Inceptio Technology), lidar (Haomo.AI), and power batteries (Sunwoda EVB). The service areas include travel services (Go-Jek) and new car sales (Shanghai Sankuai Shengxingou Technology Co., Ltd.). At the same time, there is already a car maintenance services section on the Meituan app.
In addition, Meituan has previously invested in Li Auto, a Chinese new energy vehicle manufacturer. In 2020, before Li Auto went public in the United States, Wang Xing and Meituan invested more than $1.1 billion in it. As for the reasons for the deal, Wang once explained that “technologies such as automated driving and human-vehicle interaction developed by Li Auto will overlap with Meituan‘s business in the future. Meituan is essentially a mobile company, so vehicles are very important to it. In addition, the future will belong to electric vehicles, so Meituan hopes to participate in it.”