Chinese NEV operator DST seals Series E+ round, ropes in Malaysia's TTV as investor

Chinese NEV operator DST seals Series E+ round, ropes in Malaysia's TTV as investor

China’s DST has completed its Series E+ round of financing adding Twin Towers Ventures (TTV), the corporate venture capital (CVC) arm of Malaysian state energy giant PETRONAS, to its list of blue-chip shareholders.

DST, a provider of intelligent operation solutions for new energy logistics vehicles, announced on Tuesday that it raised this extension round from existing shareholders, besides TTV.

The latest tranche brings DST’s overall Series E financing to about $100 million. The $80 million main tranche was completed in December 2023. The startup did not disclose the investors from the earlier tranche but said “a globally renowned growth fund” led the deal, with participation from existing shareholders.

DST has been previously backed by Qiming Venture Partners and MPC, formerly Matrix Partners China, among others.

DST, founded in 2015 and formally known as Electric Vehicle Rental (Shenzhen) Co Ltd, targets to advance the electrification of urban logistics vehicles. The startup leverages a digital and intelligent operational service network to manage vehicles throughout their lifecycle, covering vehicle leasing and sales, as well as vehicle charging, maintenance, and disposal.

It counts Chinese logistics majors such as SF Express and JD Logistics among its 6,000-plus corporate clients. As of June, the startup has a network of more than 130,000 new energy logistics vehicles, according to its website.

Overseas expansion

The Series E+ round comes as the startup is looking to bring its expertise in supply chain management and digital operational capabilities to power new energy logistics vehicles in markets outside of China.

Zhang Haiying, DST’s founder and chairman of the board, said that the new funding has strengthened the team’s confidence in expanding into overseas markets.

“In the future, we aim to deepen strategic collaboration with Southeast Asian partners to provide efficient, cost-effective and environment-friendly solutions in new energy logistics, thereby promoting sustainability in the global logistics industry,” said Zhang.

Its official global entry started in 2021, when the startup signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with a subsidiary of Singapore’s main rail operator SMRT Corp to build a joint venture (JV) for the provision of commercial electric vehicle (EV) solutions in Singapore and Southeast Asia.

The MoU led to the creation of EVCo, which offers corporate clients leases on EVs and a suite of EV services like facilitating electrification transitions, vehicle maintenance management, and sustainability assessments.

In the same year, DST also formed a strategic partnership with Japanese trading firm Itochu Corp, an investor in DST, to build a leasing business for commercial EVs across ASEAN, including Japan.

“The completion of the overall Series E round will provide sufficient financial resources to support DST’s expansion and overseas strategy,” said DST’s CFO Tian Tian.

The Shenzhen-based startup has raked in several hundred million US dollars since its inception. Before the Series E financing, it closed a Series D round at $200 million in 2022 across two tranches from investors including Ingka Group, the owner of most IKEA stores, and a green energy fund backed by CICC Capital.

Its Series C round, which was completed in May 2021 at $100 million, attracted investors such as SMRT Ventures, the corporate venture arm of Singapore’s SMRT Corp. Ingka Group led the deal, with participation from MPC and Bojiang Capital.

In June 2019, DST announced the completion of its $100-million Series B round from Asia-based growth fund Jeneration Capital, Hong Kong-listed financial services provider Far East Horizon, and Paris-based Idinvest Partners.

Edited by: Pramod Mathew

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