Chinese internet security firm Qihoo 360 Technology announced on Monday that the company plans to invest 2.9 billion yuan ($451 million) in Hozon Auto, which also operates a car brand called NETA Auto. After this investment is completed, Qihoo 360 will indirectly hold 16.594% equity of NETA Auto, making it the second-largest shareholder.
Qihoo 360’s investment is mainly based on the favorable development opportunities and market prospects of network security and intelligent networks within the automobile industry.
On April 26, NETA Auto announced the launch of Round D financing, garnering about 3 billion yuan, led by Qihoo 360. On May 11, 360 held a media communications meeting on its smart car strategy. Zhou Hongyi, Founder and Chairman of Qihoo 360, announced that the company would strategically invest in Hozon Auto to become its second-largest shareholder.
Zhou once said that smart cars are expected to become the largest smart terminals after computers and mobile phones, and that the ‘Internet of Vehicles’ will also become the next milestone development opportunity after mobile internet. The network security of smart cars and the security of car networking will also become an important factor in Qihoo 360’s business scope in the future.
In September, NETA Auto added a shareholder named Chengdu Hongjing Technology Co., Ltd., which is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Qihoo 360, but its shareholding ratio has not been disclosed.
There are three models offered by NETA Auto, namely the NETA U, which was launched in March 2020, the NETA V, which was launched in November 2020, and the NETA S, which will be launched at the end of 2022.
Since its establishment, NETA Auto has focused on low-end models, which so far have not been widely recognized within the market. However, in recent months, the firm’s sales volume has been increasing continuously. In September, it delivered 7,699 vehicles, surpassing rival Li Auto, and achieved sales growth for eight consecutive months. The total delivery volume of NETA Auto from January to September this year reached 41,427 units.