Chinese AI Logistics Global HQ opens in Hong Kong to Boost Westwell

Westwell, a Chinese AI Logistics company that specializes in artificial intelligence (AI) logistics, launched its international headquarters and research center in Hong Kong on Tuesday, aiming to expand its global presence and reach new markets.

The company, which was founded in 2016, develops AI chips and autopilot control systems for autonomous vehicles that are used in the logistics industry. Its flagship product, the Q-Truck, is a battery-powered commercial vehicle that can operate without human intervention.

Hong Kong: Strategic Global Hub for Chinese AI Logistics

Westwell chooses Hong Kong as its global base because of the city’s strategic location, infrastructure, and status as an international finance center, according to Kay Yang Ming, the company’s global strategic affairs vice president.

“Hong Kong enables innovation and technology companies to establish connections with the global markets,” Yang said. “And our major clients, such as Hutchison Port Holdings and China Merchants Ports, are also based in Hong Kong.”

The Office for Attracting Strategic Enterprises (Oases), a government agency that facilitates the entry of high-potential and strategic enterprises to Hong Kong from industries such as fintech, AI, and data science, supported Westwell’s move in Chinese AI Logistics.

Westwell’s achievements and plans

Westwell has achieved significant milestones since its inception. In 2018, it launched the Q-Truck, which has been deployed in various ports and logistics parks in Chinese AI Logistics and abroad. In 2020, it collaborated with Hutchison Ports to introduce its autonomous trucks at Thailand’s Laem Chabang Port and the UK’s Port of Felixstowe, the largest container port in the country.

The company also raised five rounds of funding last year, reaching a valuation of 7 billion yuan (US$973 million), with investors including China-based Essence Securities and InnoStar Venture under Shanghai-based conglomerate Fosun Group.

Westwell employs more than 700 staff, with 80 percent focusing on research and development. It plans to collaborate with Hong Kong universities and research institutes to accelerate the research and application of AI and autonomous driving technology, promoting smart and green technology, Yang said.

Westwell Explores University Collaborations

The company has had discussions with the University of Hong Kong and the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, but no concrete plans have been finalized, Yang said.

Westwell’s plans include expanding into “semi-closed loop” environments, such as autonomous transport between airports and logistics parks. However, the company has not disclosed any specific details about potential partners.

Westwell conducted extensive research into autonomous driving ecosystems worldwide during its global expansion planning, Yang said. The company believes that being situated in Hong Kong will create business opportunities thanks to the Hong Kong government’s efforts to support research and development, accelerate digital transformation, and leverage technology to upgrade industrial infrastructure.

Hong Kong’s innovation and technology ecosystem

Hong Kong has established several innovation centers and incubation programs to attract innovative Chinese AI Logistics companies in various fields. The Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation, which operates the Science and Technology Park, offers various tax incentives and other entrepreneurial support measures to foster innovation and technology development.

In October 2023, Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu outlined plans in his Policy Address for the Airport Authority Hong Kong (AAHK) to introduce an autonomous transport system by 2025 to carry passengers along the Airport City Link connecting AAHK’s Skycity complex and the Hong Kong Port Island of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge.

The system will be extended to Tung Chung Town Centre in 2028 as part of a plan to strengthen Hong Kong as a global aviation hub. Westwell’s global headquarters and research center in Hong Kong are expected to enhance the city’s position as a leading innovation and technology Chinese AI Logistics hub in the region and the world.