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Didi works with GAC Aion to build smart electric cars

The Chinese hail giant Didi Chuxing is once again pushing into the business of manufacturing hot electric cars by collaborating with the GAC Aion electric vehicle unit of the Guangzhou Automobile Group.

Didi and GAC Aion announced on Monday a strategic partnership for the joint development of self-driving electric vehicles. The parties will discuss possible cooperation models, including a joint venture, and plan to jointly develop fully autonomous vehicles.

The partnership will combine Didi’s research capability in autonomous driving hardware and software with GAC Aion’s expertise in car design and manufacturing, the companies said.

Didi began researching autonomous driving in 2016 and expanded its assets into a wholly-owned subsidiary in 2019. So far, Didi has partnered with a unit of the Beijing Automotive Group (BAIC), the German Volkswagen and the Chinese electric car manufacturer BYD to develop purpose-built products. built cars for his services. The company has also been given the green light to test autonomous vehicles in Beijing, Guangzhou, Shanghai and California

During the Shanghai Auto Show in April, Didi announced an agreement with Swedish automaker Volvo to use Volvo’s XC90 SUVs for autonomous vehicle testing. The cars would be integrated into Didi Gemini, Didi’s new self-driving hardware platform.

In November, Didi and BYD brought the D1 onto the market as the world’s first fully electric vehicle that is designed for hail drives that are produced in large numbers. The car has a supported driving system and is connected to a fleet management platform that helps optimize vehicle use and energy management.

Caixin learned that sales of the D1 exceeded 5,000 units in the first quarter of this year, mostly to car leasing companies. The model was used on roads in Changsha, Ningbo and Xiamen.

A long list of Chinese tech heavyweights have announced plans to enter the automotive market in recent months as the industry recovers from an unprecedented shift towards electric vehicles (EVs), which are increasingly autonomous and connected.

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Cover story: Tech Giants are banking on the smart car revolution

In March, smartphone giant Xiaomi pledged to invest $ 10 billion in electric vehicles over the next decade after Internet search giant Baidu entered into a joint venture to manufacture smart electric vehicles with domestic automaker Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co. Ltd. Huawei Technologies Co.. Ltd., Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. and Tencent Holdings Ltd are also trying to break into the booming market.

Contact reporter Han Wei (weihan@caixin.com) and editor Bob Simison (bobsimison@caixin.com).

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