Didi’s AV Unit Nabs $500 Million Round
|Didi chief executive Cheng Wei.
Photo credit: World Economic Forum / Benedikt von Loebell, under Creative Commons license
Chinese ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing has announced it’s secured $500 million in funding for its autonomous vehicle (AV) subsidiary, which was spun off as an independent entity in August of last year. The funding, which was led by the second iteration of the SoftBank Vision Fund, apparently marks the largest single investment for a Chinese self-driving company. It comes not too long after another Chinese self-driving company, Pony.ai, secured $462 million in funding led by Japanese automaker Toyota, which is notably also an investor in Didi.
Didi first began developing and testing self-driving vehicles in 2016. With the new funding, the company says it’ll deepen its investments in R&D as well as strategic industry partnerships. Currently, Didi has licenses to test autonomous vehicles in three Chinese cities as well as in the U.S. state of California. The company says it aims to deploy commercial self-driving fleets in select Chinese cities in future time.
The $500 million funding is the first external investment secured by Didi’s autonomous driving unit since its last year inception.