Innoviz, the Israel-based startup developing solid-state lidar sensors and perception software for autonomous vehicles, has raised $132 million in a Series C funding round that includes major Chinese financial institutions.
The round, which makes Innoviz one of the better capitalized lidar startups, includes China Merchants Capital (SINO-BLR Industrial Investment Fund, L.P.), Shenzhen Capital Group and New Alliance Capital. Israeli institutional investors Harel Insurance Investments and Financial Services and Phoenix Insurance Company also participated.
The Series C round will remain open for a second closing to be announced in the coming months, the company said.
Lidar measures distance using laser light to generate highly accurate 3D maps of the world around the car. It’s considered by most in the self-driving car industry a key piece of technology required to safely deploy robotaxis and other autonomous vehicles. Innoviz is developing solid-state lidar, which proponents of this technology say is more reliable over time because of the lack of moving parts.
Like so many startups with fresh capital, Innoviz plans to use the funds to scale up the company.
For Innoviz, this means increasing production of its lidar sensors and expanding its manufacturing capacity. Innoviz is focused on expanding in important automotive markets, including the U.S., Europe, Japan and China. Innoviz has been pushing into China over the past year through a partnership with the Chinese automotive supplier HiRain Technologies, a global supplier to some of China’s largest automakers.
That company has half of its business coming from China and has won nine of its supplier agreements with different automakers in the country through its HiRain partnership, according to people with knowledge of the company.
The company’s aim is to enable high-volume delivery of its automotive-grade lidar system called InnovizOne. This product can be produced and sold at a 90 percent lower cost than its first-generation system, according to Innoviz.
Innoviz said it also plans to expand its research and development efforts by investing in the buildout of next-generation products and software that will feature more cost reductions and improved performance.
Innoviz’s strategy has been to partner with a number of OEMs and Tier 1 suppliers such as Magna, HARMAN, HiRain Technologies and Aptiv and to package perception software with its lidar sensors and offer it as a complete unit for companies developing autonomous vehicle technology.
Innoviz has locked in several key customers, notably BMW. The automaker picked Innoviz’s tech for series production of autonomous vehicles starting in 2021.
In March, Lyft announced a partnership with Magna to help get its self-driving tech into various automakers, as well as implement the ride-hailing service into future autonomous cars. Innoviz raised $65 million in Series B funding in 2017, from strategic partners and leading auto industry suppliers Delphi Automotive and Magna International, along with other investors.