German motor vehicle manufacturer Volkswagen had planned to spend €2.4 billion to form a joint venture with Horizon Robotics, a Chinese provider of computing solutions for smart vehicles, which has begun to attract interest. 36Kr reported on October 24 that Jerry Su, the former head of Huawei’s intelligent driving business, will join the JV and may serve as the head of a certain technology department.
According to the official statement released by Volkswagen and Horizon Robotics on October 13, CARIAD, a software company owned by Volkswagen, will establish a joint venture with Horizon Robotics and hold shares. CARIAD will appoint a CEO and Horizon Robotics will appoint a CTO.
In December last year, Su left Huawei and then joined CARIAD. He was the core technical backbone of Huawei and served as the chief architect of Huawei Terminal. In 2019, Huawei established the automobile business unit, in which Su served as the head of the intelligent driving products department and led the team of the automatic driving team. During the Shanghai Auto Show in 2021, the mass-produced intelligent driving system launched by Huawei was installed in BAIC’s ARCFOX model, and an unmanned demonstration was carried out on the streets of Shanghai, which aroused some attention.
Su has fiercely commented on the industry, saying that “robotaxi firms will die.” When talking about Tesla’s accident, he said that when machines enter human society and coexist with human beings, they will definitely cause accidents.
These remarks made Su famous, but they also put pressure on Huawei. In July 2021, Huawei removed Su from his position as head of the autonomous driving division to the strategic reserve team for training and distribution after he made controversial comments about Tesla.
With Su entering Huawei’s strategic reserve team, his automatic driving solution team was put on the negotiating table between Huawei and Volkswagen. In October last year, many executives of Huawei were in close contact with Volkswagen’s global executives, and planned to set up an autonomous driving joint venture to provide solutions for Volkswagen. Su and other core talents would also move to the joint venture.
Apparently, the deal was later cut off by Horizon Robotics, a chip company. Ralf Brandstatter, CEO of Volkswagen China, said in an interview that the cooperation between the two parties started in early 2022, later than Huawei.
According to the sales data over the years, the sales volume in China accounts for 30%-40% of Volkswagen’s global share, making China its largest single market in the world. However, emerging car-making firms in China, such as NIO and Li Auto, and mature electric vehicle companies such as BYD and Tesla, have quickly seized the Chinese market.
Some industry executives said, in the future, most global car companies need to bind with an autonomous driving technical partner in China to explore the Chinese markets. The primary reason is that Chinese autonomous driving companies respond faster and can better match the iterative rhythm of smart cars. Secondly, autonomous driving involves safe operations such as surveying and mapping, which increases the localization demand.