Blue Lake Capital makes additional investments in “Zelos”, a global leading urban distribution autonomous driving technology company

February 27, 2024

Zelos, a global leader in R&D and application of urban distribution autonomous driving products invested by Blue Lake Capital, has recently announced the completion of its Series A financing of nearly US$100 million led by Meituan, with Baidu Venture, Unicorn, Xianting Fund and Seekdource participating. Meanwhile, existing shareholders Blue Lake Capital and C&D Emerging Industry Equity Investment make additional investments, and Lighthouse Capital serves as the exclusive financial advisor. Upon the completion of financing, Zelos will further boost technology R&D and creation of supply chain, accelerate model implementation and talent team building.Amid the continuous development of intelligent and electrification technologies, the mobility sector is actively embracing the industrial wave. Passenger vehicles are widely adopting new energy and smart driving approach, and at the same time, there is ample room for industrial upgrading in commercial vehicles, logistics and other sectors. Since 2019, the penetration rate of new energy commercial vehicles has increased from 1% to 11%, triggering the exploration of application of L4 smart driving in commercial vehicles.

In the logistics industry, urban distribution is the logistics scenario closest to end customers. Current statistics show that the total urban distribution market size has reached RMB1.5 trillion, and the number of transportation vehicles has reached 20 million. Additionally, as the scenarios of the urban environment are highly open, urban distribution scenarios become more complex than those in ports, mining areas, trunk lines and other environment. The development and mass production of new energy L4 smart commercial vehicles under urban distribution scenarios are prone to higher technical barriers. Thus, at the recent fourth meeting of the Central Financial and Economic Affairs Commission, the reform of the comprehensive transportation system was highlighted with the aim of forming a unified, efficient, competitive and orderly logistics market, and encouraging the development of new model of logistics integrating platform economy, low-altitude economy, autonomous driving, etc. Meanwhile, a number of policies have been successively issued, including the “Notice on Carrying out Pilot Work on the Access and Road Access of Intelligent Connected Vehicles”, which gradually create favorable conditions for the implementation of L4 commercialization in the urban distribution scenario. The cost of key components such as lidar and lithium battery packs has also reduced, thereby reducing the mass production cost of new energy L4 commercial vehicles.

As a global leader in R&D and application of urban distribution autonomous driving products, Zelos integrates technology R&D, product design and commercial application, and has successfully developed L4 full-stack autonomous driving technology used in mature and large-scale commercial sector. Zelos has considerable expertise in underlying systematization, including L4 algorithm R&D, product development, vehicle delivery, sales and operation and maintenance, and has internally developed all software and hardware modules, facilitating the building of three major technology platforms: intelligent platform, vehicle platform, and electrification platform.

In 2023, Zelos launched the world’s first L4 urban distribution mass-produced product, Zelos Z5 series, which keeps the three indicators at the highest level in the industry: loading space, operating mileage and load weight, covering a wide range of urban business scenarios such as express delivery, on-site logistics and fresh food delivery. By integrating new energy and intelligent driving, Zelos products can significantly reduce the energy and labor costs of commercial vehicles, helping customers to reduce costs and raise efficiency by over 50%.

Leveraging its robust vehicle design capabilities, Zelos Z5 series iterated quickly and finalized the mass production of the world’s original 5m3 flagship model within one year, and developed different vehicle models such as standard, multi-grid and cold chain to cater for different scenarios such as logistics, express delivery, and retail. Over the past year, Zelos has upgraded five models, and its key indicators such as single-vehicle carrying capacity and average car speed far exceed the level of peers.

Zelos has established an L4 autonomous driving R&D team with expertise in both technology development and commercialization, which is not commonly found in the industry. The team has developed full-stack L4 autonomous driving technology, as well as core algorithms and software and hardware modules, including map and positioning, perception and decision-making, computing platform, operating system, simulation system, vehicle execution, chassis control and other key links. It also promotes algorithm iteration through real-time driving data to create the data flywheel characterized by “driving data-algorithm iteration-feedback verification-product iteration” in order to continuously improve L4 algorithm capabilities.

Currently, Zelos urban distribution autonomous vehicles are traveling in over 50 cities. L4 series has been running with the cumulative operating mileage exceeding 2 million kilometers. Taking the advantages of coping with complex road conditions such as rain and snow, complex intersections, elevated tunnels, etc., its core indicators are leading in the industry. Zelos has also planned and established a vehicle production system that meets market demand.

Wei Haitao, partner of Blue Lake Capital said, “I am delighted to work with Zelos to explore L4 autonomous driving products and accompany Zelos to build a world-class autonomous driving technology team. Blue Lake Capital is firmly optimistic about autonomous driving in the future. I believe that Zelos will be able to bring the industrialization of L4 autonomous driving to new heights.”

As the first-ever L4 smart urban distribution vehicle company in the industry that can secure positive gross profit by adopting the “turnkey car sales” approach, Zelos will further enhance the technology R&D and products for urban distribution scenarios ranging within 180 km, bringing more powerful autonomous smart vehicle products to the urban distribution market. In the near future, Zelos will successively explore and study smart logistics products supporting longer range and more scenarios, keep on promoting the optimization of efficiency of the logistics industry, and help create a more convenient, smarter, and greener logistics ecosystem.

Blue Lake Capital has been deeply developing the autonomous driving and new energy vehicle industry chain in recent years. In June 2021, it made an exclusive investment in Zelos Angel Round, and has continued to make several additional investments in subsequent rounds.

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