Nio Lidar supplier Innovusion raises $64 million in funding

FILE PHOTO: William Li, founder and chief executive officer (CEO) of Chinese electric vehicle maker Nio Inc, unveils Nio's ET7 sedan at a product launch event in Chengdu, Sichuan province, China, January 9, 2021. REUTERS/Yilei Sun/File Photo

LONDON (Reuters) - Lidar sensor maker Innovusion said on Monday it had raised $64 million in funding to ramp up production to supply Chinese electric vehicle (EV) maker Nio Inc's ET7 sedan, which is scheduled to start deliveries in early 2022.

The funding includes new investments from Singapore state investor Temasek and venture capital firm Joy Capital.

Some existing investors also participated, including Nio Capital, Nio's investment arm. With the latest funding, Innovusion has raised more than $100 million.

Lidar (light detection and ranging) sensors use laser light pulses to render precise images of the environment around the car. They are seen as essential by many automakers for higher levels of driver assistance, right up to making cars capable of self-driving.

Nio unveiled the ET7 earlier this year.

It is one of two models the EV maker plans to sell in Norway, where government tax breaks and subsidies have made the country a global leader in per capita EV sales.

Innovusion Chief Executive Junwei Bao said its Lidar sensors would be offered as standard on the ET7, with the latest funding helping to scale up production and provide financing to some suppliers.

"The supply chain needs a boost because Lidar is a new animal, so we'll use some of the funding to support them," he said.

Innovusion's sensors can spot some objects at a range of up to 500 meters (1640 ft) and can register all but the darkest objects at a range of 250 meters.

Junwei Bao said Innovusion's sensors were being evaluated for deployment by other carmakers.

Other Lidar makers like Ouster Inc and Luminar Technologies Inc have gone public via mergers with special purpose acquisition companies (SPACs).

Bao said Innovusion had considered going public, but had not decided whether to do so.

(Reporting by Nick Carey. Editing by Mark Potter)

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