Great Wall Motor, BYD, Other Chinese Car Firms Invest in Autonomous Driving Chips

As the target valuation of Mobileye, an autonomous driving subsidiary of Intel, continues to be lowered, the field of autonomous driving chips in China is active. Many local car companies such as Great Wall Motor, BYD, Geely, SAIC, GAC Group, and Dongfeng Motor are accelerating their investments in the chip industry.

EVAS Intelligence, an automated driving chip company, announced on October 24 its completion of pre-A round financing totaling 300 million yuan ($41 million), jointly led by GAC Capital and Oriental Fortune Capital. This startup, which was established just at the beginning of this year, has so far completed two rounds of financing totaling 500 million yuan.

On October 21, Great Wall Motor announced plans to use its own funds to set up a semiconductor company. According to sources familiar with the company quoted by China Star Market, the move is intended to develop chips involving insulated gate bipolar transistors (IGBTs), automated driving and intelligent cockpits.

BYD successfully developed IGBT chips in 2009, and has since then reached cooperation with RoboSense, Horizon Robotics, Nvidia and other enterprises. Geely intends to drive deep into the chip field through self-research and cooperation with other manufacturers. The mass production models of SAIC and Horizon Robotics are expected to be unveiled in 2023 and 2025. GAC Group has invested in chip enterprises such as CanSemi Tech, Horizon Robotics and DeepMirror through GAC Capital.

Horizon Robotics and Black Sesame Technology have now become early entrants in the field of autonomous driving chips in China, and the two companies have established cooperative relations with BYD, FAW’s Hongqi and other automakers.

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L4 and L5 automatic driving functions take a long time to realize, with huge data accumulation and practical training requirements. However, L2 assisted driving, including autonomous parking, automatic cruise and other functions, has been widely popularized with the decrease of cost. Some Chinese EV makers are now widely applying assisted driving to lower-level models priced around 150,000 yuan.

Chinese automated driving chips with high computing power are also increasingly being applied to vehicles. On September 30, Li Auto‘s L8 and L7 models were released, and the L8 Pro became the first mass-produced model to be equipped with Horizon Robotics’ Journey 5 chip. The AD Pro on L8 Pro is the world’s first intelligent driving system equipped with a Journey 5 chip. After two years of software and hardware polishing and verification, Black Sesame’s A1000 chip has become the first large computing power automated driving chip in China to complete all mass production certification this year. Many models of the Sihao brand under JAC Group will be equipped with A1000 chips.