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Autonomous vehicle arm of Didi raises $149M from state investors

Was Didi’s 2020 autonomous vehicle subsidiary a Chinese equivalent to Uber’s? Since then, China’s tech landscape has changed, with internet firms regulated and foreign investments plummeting due to U.S.-China tensions. Despite Beijing’s data security probe into Didi’s parent company, its AV unit has survived and received new funding.

Didi Autonomous Driving, previously backed by SoftBank, announced today that it will receive up to $149 million from two Guangzhou municipal government investors: GAC Group’s wholly-owned subsidiary GAC Capital and Guangzhou Development District Investment Group.

To launch a robotaxis in China, local governments must be involved. Though not stated in its announcement, Didi’s robotaxi rollout in the 18-million-person megacity will likely accelerate. Didi’s autonomous vehicles began commercial operation in Guangzhou’s Huadu District in March.

Didi plans to invest the new funds “deeply in research and development, accelerate the implementation of related products, pursue open collaborations in the industry chain, build a sustainable and open industry ecosystem, and expedite the widespread commercial use of autonomous driving technology.”

Didi announced plans to launch self-developed robotaxis 24/7 by 2025 in April. It partners with Lincoln, BYD, Nissan, and Volvo to build hardware. Its ties with GAC deepened in May when it announced a joint venture with Aion to mass produce plugged-in robotaxis.

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