Chinese electric vehicle maker BYD is now planning to independently develop chips for intelligent driving, local media outlet 36Kr reported on July 15, citing people familiar with the matter. The project is led by BYD’s semiconductor team which has already sent a request to the design company.
BYD is also recruiting a board support package (BSP) team. The function of the BSP is to provide a standard interface for the operating system running on the chip. According to industry insiders, it is not uncommon to start chip development from a BSP. Chips are not the first priority, while the BSP can be developed first to debug any issues with the chips.
BYD’s semiconductor team was established nearly twenty years ago but was spun off in 2020. The independent unit submitted a prospectus to the Shenzhen Stock Exchange for its own listing. Prior to this, its products were mainly industrial chips such as IGBT and MCU, instead of intelligent driving chips and digital console chips.
However, with intelligence becoming the core factor of competition among automobile companies, BYD’s strategy is undergoing adjustment. On June 8 this year, Wang Chuanfu, chairman of BYD, bluntly said that the first half of developing new energy vehicles is electrification and the second half is intelligence. In the field of intelligence, all core technologies will be opened up by BYD, which will drive down costs and improve efficiency.
At the beginning of June this year, BYD’s market value reached 1 trillion yuan ($148 billion). This achievement was based on the company’s long-term accumulation in the field of electric power, such as its independently developed power batteries, motors, electrical controls, hybrid technologies and semiconductors, but in the field of intelligence, BYD’s layout has lagged.
Although BYD’s research institute has 1,000 employees, its R&D achievements are more for vehicle systems. The company still needs external support in its intelligent driving division. In 2021, BYD cooperated with Momenta, an automated driving company, as well as Baidu, NVIDIA.
Domestic vehicle makers like NIO, XPeng Motors and Li Auto have all built up huge intelligent driving R&D teams. NIO has more than 800 intelligent driving employees and has set up a team for intelligent driving chips. At present, talent has been pulled in from Huawei, Alibaba‘s DAMO Academy and other companies. XPeng Motors, meanwhile, has independent algorithm teams all over China and the United States. At present, it is cooperating with Marvell, a chip company, is to promote chip research.