Chinese companies DJI, Didi, Xiaomi and Baidu flock to the automotive industry

The automotive business is the industry of the moment with several of China’s tech giants setting up a car-related business this year.

DJI, one of the global leaders in drone technology, is the latest company to join the mix. Reuters first reported that the company was developing an engineering team focussed on self-driving technologies earlier this year. This has been further confirmed by images leaked this week which suggest that DJI will create sensors for self-driving cars.

On April 12, DJI announced the launch of an intelligent driving subsidiary, DJI Automotive, on Weibo. According to the post, the new business will offer research and development, production and sales services. DJI Automotive’s Weibo account also announced that it will release automotive-related products at the Shanghai Auto Show on April 19.

In January, Baidu officially launched a smart vehicle business and formed a strategic partnership with Chinese automaker Geely to create smart electric cars. The company has also been active in innovating self-driving transportation options. Yesterday, it officially received China’s first self-driving bus operation license in Chongqing. Baidu also rolled out a self-driving taxi service in Beijing with over 40 vehicles involved in the trial operations in September 2020.

Last month, smartphone manufacturer Xiaomi announced that it will be setting up a subsidiary for electric vehicles under the leadership of CEO Lei Jun. The initial investment will be $1.5 billion and the company has pledged an additional $10 billion dollars over the next ten years.

Following Baidu and Xiaomi’s announcement, ride-hailing service Didi also stated that it is planning to enter the car-making industry. Its EV business will be led by Yang Jun, vice-president of Didi and general manager of Xiaoju Auto Service. As of yet, Didi hasn’t offered further details about its new car business but the move comes as the company is planning a confidential IPO on the New York Stock Exchange later this year.

News outlets have also reported that Huawei is planning to invest $1 billion in the smart car business. However, Xu Zhiju, Huawei’s rotating chairman, denied that the company planned to launch its own vehicles, he said:

“Huawei is not a car manufacturer. However, through information and communications technology, Huawei aims to be a digital car-oriented and new-added components provider.” 

The EV and smart vehicle markets are quickly becoming crowded out by the influx of tech giants.

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