Chinese automaker Guangzhou Automobile Group’s electric vehicle branch GAC Aion announced on Monday that it will develop self-driving new energy vehicles with ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing.
The companies will co-develop an autonomous new energy car model for “large-scale commercial application with the aim of entering accelerated mass production,” Didi said in a statement.
The joint venture will bring together Didi’s hardware and software R&D capabilities and GAC Aion’s vehicle engineering and manufacturing expertise, with an aim to work on areas such as the drive-by-wire system, self-driving sensors and system integration, the press release added.
“Didi will continue to increase investment in R&D in self-driving technology to make future transportation safer and more efficient. GAC Group has been Didi’s important partner in our automotive industry ecosystem. We are very pleased to explore deep collaboration with GAC Aion to jointly develop a truly factory-installed fully self-driving car model for mass production,” said Zhang Bo, CTO of Didi and CEO of Didi Autonomous Driving.
In 2019, Didi expanded its partnership with GAC Group through fleet expansion and management, development of new mobility products, and collaboration on smart driving.
The ride-hailing giant launched its autonomous driving project in 2016 and upgraded it to a wholly-owned subsidiary in 2019. So far, Didi has set up joint ventures with a unit of Beijing Automotive Group (BAIC) and Germany’s Volkswagen as part of an ultimate goal to develop purpose-built cars for its services.
In June 2020, Didi launched an on-demand robotaxi service in Shanghai. Later, in March 2021, the company announced a strategic partnership with the Huadu District of Guangzhou to invest in R&D in self-driving technology and commercial applications.
During last month’s Shanghai Auto Show, Volvo Cars announced that it has signed a deal with Didi to develop autonomous driving cars for a robotaxi fleet. The Swedish carmaker will provide Didi with its XC90 SUVs, which are equipped with backup systems for steering and braking. The vehicles will be the first to integrate Didi Gemini, the company’s new self-driving hardware platform.
In 2020, GAC Aion released the world’s first mass-produced L3 autonomous car, Aion LX, and the world’s first 5G-enabled car, Aion V. It also aims to launch L4 autonomous cars in 2022.
GAC general manager Feng Xingya said earlier that the automaker aims for half of its car sales to be electric models in 2035, with hybrid cars accounting for the remainder.