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LATEST
Tencent Focuses on Gaming in First Quarter Investments
Meituan Starts Operation of New Unmanned Delivery Vehicle in Beijing
Baidu Aims for the Stars, Wanting to Fit 1 Million Cars With its Apollo Self-Driving System in 3-5 Years
China’s Didi to Use Volvo Vehicles in Self-Driving Tests
China’s Smartphone Shipments See 68% Growth in March as Effects of Pandemic Level Off
Honda Partners with AutoX to Develop Self-Driving Tech For China’s Road and Traffic
92-Year Old Li Ka-Shing Receives First Dose of BioNTech Vaccine
China Becomes World’s Biggest Buyer of Chip Equipment in 2020, Says SEMI
Geely-Controlled Swedish Electric Carmaker Polestar Raises $550 Million in First External Funding
Xpeng Looks to Cut Reliance on Foreign Made Chips Amid Global Shortage
Trending in China: The Fake Writing Competition That Conned Beijing Parents for Years
ByteDance Powers Up Gaming Investment with C4games Acquisition
Didi Given Greenlight to Test Autonomous Vehicles in Beijing Pilot Zone
Xpeng Debuts New Car As China’s NEV Market Heats Up
Lenovo Still Top Dog in Global PC Market in First Quarter of 2021
Tesla Says Any Data It Collects in China Is Stored in the Nation
Medtech Startup StoneWise Raises $100 Million to Promote Use of AI in Drug Development
Plus Accelerates Uptake of its Autonomous Truck Tech with Italian IVECO Deal
Trending in China: Farmer Given Suspended Jail Time For Felling Own Trees – Social Media Chimes In
‘Tickets Please!’ Baidu Allowed to Charge for Robobus Service in Chongqing
BUSINESS & TECH

Ding Yi / Apr 20, 2021 07:03 PM / Business & Tech

China’s Tencent participated in 103 investment deals worth more than 60 billion yuan ($9.2 billion) in the first quarter of 2021, with a preference for gaming companies, as Beijing tightens its crackdown on monopolistic behaviors by tech and internet giants.

The 103 deals involved a wide range of industries ranging from entertainment and education to finance and healthcare, according to a report released on Monday by Chinese company information provider Qichacha.

About a third of the deals were related to gaming investments, reflecting Tencent’s increasing focus on an industry that has enjoyed robust growth since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

In the early months of the year, TikTok owner ByteDance also increased its investments in the gaming sector, with eye-catching acquisitions of Beijing-based mobile game developer C4games and Shanghai-based mobile game firm Moonton in April and March respectively. The moves were viewed as ByteDance’s renewed attempt to challenge Tencent’s leading position, which generated online game revenue of $24 billion in 2020 mainly from hits like Honor of Kings and PUBG Mobile.

Xingsheng Youxuan, a Chinese community group buying platform, is the only company that received two rounds of investment from Tencent in the three-month period, according to the report.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com)

Related: Call of Duty Mobile Developer Outplays Games Publisher as Timi Studio Earns More Than Activision Blizzard

 


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BUSINESS & TECH

By Ding Yi / Apr 20, 2021 05:20 PM / Business & Tech

Chinese lifestyle service and food delivery giant Meituan has launched its new-generation self-designed driverless delivery vehicle in Beijing’s Shunyi district, which the company says will deliver stronger capabilities than its predecessors in terms of automatization, carrying capacity and cruising range. The move comes as the Chinese capital rolls out policies to promote business applications of self-driving technology.

The Meituan vehicle is able to react to obstacles in its surroundings to a radius of more than 150 meters, and can cover 80 kilometers on a single charge with a loading capacity of 150 kilograms, the company said in a statement on Monday.

On the same day, the Beijing municipal government issued a document to designate several areas in the city in which qualified companies are allowed to operate their unmanned delivery vehicles in preparation for the future commercialization of the technology.

Meituan started piloting its autonomous logistics service last February, when it deployed a fleet of driverless vehicles to send grocery orders to customers in some parts of Beijing in order to reduce human contact during the Covid-19 pandemic. So far, the company said that it has sent some 35,000 orders to customers from over 20 residential communities in Beijing using autonomous delivery vehicles.

Monday’s announcement comes just a week after Meituan and Tsinghua University set up a joint research center which will focus on the development of technologies including autonomous driving, artificial intelligence and high-performance computing.

Domestic e-commerce giants Alibaba and JD.com also harbor ambitions for autonomous logistics services. In September 2020, Alibaba unveiled an autonomous logistics robot, named Xiaomanlv, which it said is able to plan delivery routes, identify obstacles and predict pedestrians’ intended movements. In 2018, JD.com launched its first-generation logistics drone, codenamed the JDY-800, which can carry up to 840 kilograms of cargo.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com)

Related: Beijing to Test Self-Driving Delivery Vehicles


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By Ding Yi / Apr 20, 2021 01:14 PM / Business & Tech

Baidu has declared its autonomous driving ambitions at one of the auto industry’s biggest marketing events.

On the opening day of the Shanghai Auto Show on Monday, the search giant said it is aiming to have its Apollo autonomous driving system pre-installed in 1 million vehicles in the next three to five years, a target that came three months after it unveiled plans to set up a joint venture with domestic carmaker Geely to make intelligent electric vehicles powered by its self-driving technologies.

Baidu established its open-source Apollo platform in 2017 with the goal of providing third-party partners access to the necessary technologies needed for the R&D of driverless vehicles including high-definition mapping, obstacle perception and cloud simulation.

At the Shanghai Auto Show Baidu also highlighted two smart driving technologies developed out of the Apollo platform: The Apollo Navigation Pilot (ANP) system, which the company said is more cost-efficient and suitable for mass production when compared with laser-based sensing system. And the Apollo Valet Parking (AVP) system, which it said has been installed in some mass-produced vehicle models including the Weltmeister W6.

With the search engine giant’s revenue derived from online advertising showing signs of stagnation in recent years, Baidu has considered its self-driving business a major potential growth driver. The company has already started exploring commercializing its autonomous vehicle services with two permits allowing it to test the charging of fees for its robobus and robotaxi pilot programs launched in Chongqing and Cangzhou respectively.

During the auto show, other exhibitors also displayed breakthroughs made in autonomous driving. Chinese automaker GAC said that it plans to roll out its first vehicle model with autonomous driving functions developed with Huawei after 2024.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com)

Related: First Car Equipped With Huawei Self-Driving System Goes on Sale


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Ding Yi / Apr 19, 2021 05:13 PM / Business & Tech

Didi Chuxing said on Monday that it has signed an agreement with Swedish carmaker Volvo to use the latter company’s XC90 SUVs for its autonomous vehicle tests, a move that the Chinese ride-hailing giant said could bring it a step closer to offering truly driver-free robotaxi services.

Volvo, which is owned by Chinese automaker Geely, will provide XC90 vehicles equipped with backup steering and braking systems, which will be incorporated into Didi Gemini, Didi’s new self-driving hardware platform, Didi said in a statement.

Based on data collected from its ride-hailing services and real-world road tests and boasting a computing power of 700 trillion operations per second, the Didi Gemini platform features a sensing system made up of lidars, radars, cameras and thermal imagers, as well as a fallback system capable of reacting to system failures, according to the company.

The deal will also see the two companies jointly develop more hardware and software needed to build fully autonomous vehicles, according to the statement.

Volvo plans to initially provide Didi with hundreds of vehicles with the aim of adding more as the autonomous driving test fleet expands, Reuters reported on Monday, citing Alexander Petrofski, head of strategy at Volvo.

The partnership between Didi and Volvo dates back to the summer of last year, when Didi launched its first robotaxi pilot program in Shanghai using Volvo XC60 vehicles, in its first major step toward its goal of operating more than 1 million autonomous vehicles by 2030. The Shanghai service requires human backup drivers to sit in the cars and take control in case of emergency.

On Friday, a similar agreement was inked, under which Japanese carmaker Honda will provide Chinese autonomous vehicle startup AutoX with its Accord and Inspire vehicles for use in road tests in China.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com)

Related: Didi Given Greenlight to Test Autonomous Vehicles in Beijing Pilot Zone

 


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By Ding Yi / Apr 19, 2021 12:45 PM / Business & Tech

Honda is increasing its efforts in exploring self-driving technology capable of dealing with China’s road conditions through a partnership with Chinese autonomous vehicle startup AutoX. The Chinese company is seen as a market leader in this field and is currently operating a robotaxi pilot program that does not need backup drivers in Shenzhen.

The Japanese automaker will provide its Accord and Inspire vehicles that will be equipped with Alibaba-backed AutoX’s autonomous vehicle technology for use of road tests on China’s public roads, AutoX said in a statement emailed to Caixin on Friday.

Honda aims to use the road tests to deepen its understanding of China’s traffic environment, establish the public acceptance for autonomous vehicles as the company seeks new autonomous driving technology solutions, the statement said.

In 2015, Honda started installing Honda Sensing, its intelligent suite of safety and driver assistance technologies designed to alert drivers dangers they might miss while driving, in a wide range of its products sold in China. In March this year, the company launched a revamped Legend sedan powered by Level 3 autonomous driving technology in Japan, which the country’s transport ministry touted as the world’s first car to hit the market that allows drivers to engage in certain activities even when the car is in certain circumstances such as driving through congested traffic on expressways.

The tie-up between Honda and AutoX marks the latest example of a conventional carmaker and a tech company pairing up to delve into smart vehicles.

In January, AutoX, which received permission to test a highly autonomous vehicle without a driver behind the wheel in California last July, opened its robotaxi pilot program to the general public in Shenzhen, where it is headquartered. The move allows users to hail autonomous taxis that do not have safety drivers. The company is also trialing its robotaxi services in Shanghai and Wuhan. The trials require backup drivers to sit in the cars and take control in case of an emergency.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com)

Related: WeRide Joins Caravan of Chinese Firms Allowed to Road Test Driverless Cars in California


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By Ding Yi / Apr 16, 2021 08:51 PM / Business & Tech

China bought more semiconductor manufacturing equipment than any other single country or region in 2020, as Beijing pursues self-sufficiency in chip production amid mounting tech tensions with Washington.

With sales of $18.72 billion, the Chinese mainland claimed the title as the world’s largest market for semiconductor manufacturing equipment for the first time last year, growing by 39% year-on-year, according to a report by SEMI, a U.S.-based industry association representing companies involved in electronics design and manufacturing supply chain. Semiconductor manufacturing equipment is mainly used for wafer processing, assembly, packaging and testing.

The previously largest market Taiwan took the second spot with a market size of $17.15 billion in terms of sales, basically flat from 2019. South Korea and Japan came in third and fourth with respective sales of $16.08 billion and $7.58 billion, according to the report.

China’s rise to become the world’s top buyer of chip-making equipment comes as domestic chipmakers are revving up their manufacturing capacities in the face of crippling U.S. policies that limit supplies of chips made with U.S. technology to certain Chinese tech giants including Huawei.

As part of efforts to spur the growth of its own semiconductor industry, China’s Finance Ministry in March announced a new policy that allows domestic chipmakers to import machinery and raw materials tax-free through 2030.

Overall, global sales of semiconductor manufacturing equipment rose 19% year-on-year in 2020 to a record high of $71.2 billion, according to the SEMI report.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com)

Related: Sanction-Hobbled SMIC to Keep Doing Business With Major Western Supplier

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By Ding Yi / Apr 16, 2021 06:48 PM / Business & Tech

Polestar, a Swedish electric carmaker controlled by Volvo and its Chinese owner Geely, has raised $550 million in its first external funding.

The financing was led by Chongqing Chengxing Equity Investment Fund Partnership, Zibo Financial Holding and Zibo Hightech Industrial Investment, with proceeds to be used to accelerate Polestar’s product development and strengthen its R&D capabilities as it prepares to launch new car models in the coming years, the Swedish company said in a statement on Thursday.

The company also said that it is in talks with other investors over possible additional funding.

Established in October 2017, Polestar has launched a plug-in hybrid and an all-electric car, named Polestar 1 and Polestar 2 respectively. Production of the Polestar 2 started at Geely’s plant in Luqiao, China in March last year. It also has a new model in development called the Polestar Precept, with interiors to be made from recycled plastic bottles, cork vinyl and reclaimed fishing nets.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com)

Related: Geely Targets Big Tech With Its New Electric-Car Unit

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By Ding Yi / Apr 16, 2021 12:30 PM / Business & Tech

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Xpeng is looking to lessen its dependence on foreign-made chips for its self-driving technology. The aim is to achieve better integration between its hardware and software.

The Chinese electric vehicle startup is “looking at all possible options” to keep its advantage in the fiercely competitive market by exploring in-house chipsets for autonomous driving, Wu Xinzhou, Xpeng’s vice president in charge of autonomous driving, told CNBC on Wednesday.

“So far we are doing very well in software,” Wu said, without providing further details.

The remarks came after domestic media reports revealed that Xpeng had set up a small team to develop semiconductors against the backdrop of an ongoing global chip shortage. The shortage has disrupted production for some automakers including Xpeng’s domestic rival Nio.

Also on Wednesday, Xpeng unveiled the P5, its third car model, which uses chips from Nvidia and Qualcomm for autonomous driving and smart cockpit respectively.

Xpeng is betting big on its own car technologies to stand out among electric carmakers, and this push carries more significance as Baidu and Xiaomi, which harbor ambitions for self-developed artificial intelligence chips, have entered the car manufacturing business.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com)

Related: Xpeng Debuts New Car As China’s NEV Market Heats Up


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Ding Yi / Apr 15, 2021 06:56 PM / Business & Tech

ByteDance’s gaming subsidiary Nuverse has acquired Beijing-based mobile game developer C4games for an undisclosed amount, the latest move in its push into the competitive video game sector, a ByteDance representative confirmed on Wednesday.

The acquisition comes three weeks after Nuverse bought Moonton, a Shanghai-based mobile game firm which has made a hit in Southeast Asia with its multiplayer online battel arena (MOBA) title Mobile Legends. At the time, ByteDance said that the Moonton deal would help it expand its gaming strategy in global markets.

10-year-old C4games takes pride in its role-playing game Fangzhi Shaonü and simulation game Red Alert Online. Fangzhi Shaonü, which was released in 2017 in Japan, generated the 11th largest overseas revenue of any Chinese mobile game in 2020, according to research firm SensorTower. Red Alert Online, which was released in 2018, had some 20 million registered players by the end of March last year, and once set a record monthly revenue of 200 million yuan ($31 million), according to C4games’ website.

The acquisition of C4games comes at a time when the Chinese government is tightening its crackdown on monopolistic practices by the country’s tech, internet and fintech giants. On Wednesday, ByteDance joined with a group of Chinese tech giants to pledge compliance with the antitrust law, a day after regulators told them to learn a lesson from the case of Alibaba, which last week was fined a record $2.8 billion for behaving like a monopoly.

Nuverse was established in 2019, when ByteDance started testing the waters in the gaming space with the release of a mini game on Douyin, the Chinese version of TikTok. In February, Nuverse launched its official website with the introduction of the first batch of its gaming titles including Strike Royale, Arena of Evolution: Red Tides, Blades of the Guardians and Terminal Battleground.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com)

Related: ByteDance Snaps Up Mobile Legends Publisher as Gaming Tussle With Tencent Intensifies

 

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Ding Yi / Apr 15, 2021 06:49 PM / Business & Tech

Ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing has become one of the first companies to receive permission to test autonomous vehicles in a pilot zone, which Beijing is planning to build for the development of intelligent connected cars. The new deal is the latest in a growing number of agreements Didi has signed with local governments in an aggressive self-driving push.

The permit will allow Didi to conduct road tests day and night even under bad weather conditions, the company said in a WeChat post on Wednesday.

On Wednesday, the Beijing municipal government approved a blueprint aimed at building a pilot zone in southern Beijing which will contain six test roads totaling 143 kilometers in length, according to Xinhua News Agency. The pilot zone will also serve as a testing ground for qualified companies to test out commercialization of their autonomous vehicle services for uses of passenger transportation and logistics. As of now, the Chinese capital has built some 200 self-driving test roads totaling about 700 kilometers in length.

Besides Beijing, Didi said that it has gained the green light to test autonomous vehicles in Shanghai and California, and employs more than 500 workers to delve into the technology.

In March, Didi signed a deal with Guangzhou’s Huadu district government to conduct testing of fully autonomous vehicles in the district, ten months after it launched a robotaxi pilot program in Shanghai.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com)

Related: WeRide Joins Caravan of Chinese Firms Allowed to Road Test Driverless Cars in California

 


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Ding Yi / Apr 15, 2021 03:43 PM / Business & Tech

Chinese electric vehicle startup Xpeng on Wednesday unveiled the P5, its third car model, which it says is powered by new intelligent driving technologies. The expansion of its product portfolio is viewed as an attempt to capitalize on the country’s red-hot new energy vehicle market.

Xpeng touts the P5, whose specifications and prices will be announced at the Shanghai Auto Show next week, as one of the world’s first mass-produced electric cars equipped with lidar technology, according to a company statement. The lidar technology enables the P5 distinguish pedestrians, cyclists, scooters, static obstacles and road works even at night and under low-light conditions

Automotive lidar uses spinning lasers to scan obstacles around a vehicle as it moves. It bounces laser pulses off surrounding objects and measures the returning time of reflected light to calculate distances and shapes.

In addition, the P5 is powered by a new version of XPILOT, Xpeng’s so-called advanced driver assistance system similar to Tesla’s Autopilot and Nio’s Nio Pilot. The XPILOT 3.5 features a sensing system made up of two lidar sensors, 12 ultrasonic sensors, five millimeter-wave radars and 13 high-resolution cameras, and a function named Navigation Guided Pilot (NGP) assisting drivers to perform tasks on city roads like lane changing and car overtaking, the statement said.

The P5’s launch comes as big tech firms like Baidu and Xiaomi have set foot in the highly competitive new energy vehicle industry with massive investment plans in anticipation of the bright future of the market.

In the first quarter of 2021, new energy vehicle sales in China totaled 515,000 units, about 2.8 times higher than the same period of last year, as a growing number of individual consumers were interested in green cars, a departure from the past when such sales went primarily to ride-hailing and car rental companies in the country, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers.

In the three-month period, Xpeng said that it achieved record-breaking quarterly deliveries of 13,340 vehicles, beating its earlier forecast of 12,500 cars.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com)

Related: Cover Story: Tech Giants Bet on the Smart-Car Revolution

 


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By Ding Yi / Apr 14, 2021 07:38 PM / Business & Tech

China’s Lenovo maintained its position as the world’s largest personal computer (PC) vendor in the first quarter of 2021 with a market share of 25.1%, as the company tightened its grip on its supply chains amid a global chip shortage, according to research firm Gartner.

In the first three months of the year, Lenovo shipped 17.5 million PCs, including desktops, laptops and ultramobile premiums, representing a year-on-year increase of 42.3%, the highest among the world’s top six sellers, according to Gartner.

The research firm also said that Lenovo grew faster than average in all key regions, with particularly strong year-on-year growth of 63.7% in the Asia Pacific region, as the company appeared to keep their supply chains under control with a higher percentage of its PCs being made in-house compared with other vendors.

HP, Dell, Apple, Acer and ASUS came in second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth with respective global market shares of 21.4%, 16.5%, 8%, 5.7% and 5.4%.

Overall, global PC shipments rose 32% year-on-year in the quarter to 69.9 million units, the highest growth rate Gartner has tracked since 2000.

“This growth should be viewed in the context of two unique factors: comparisons against a pandemic-constrained market and the current global semiconductor shortage,” said the firm’s research director Mikako Kitagawa.

“Without the shipment chaos in early 2020, this quarter’s growth may have been lower. However, semiconductor shortages are now adversely affecting the supply chain once again, with shipment lead times for some PCs extending to as long as four months.”

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com)

Related: Taiwan’s Acer says component shortage squeezes PC makers

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By Bloomberg / Apr 13, 2021 10:04 PM / Business & Tech

Shoppers walk past the Tesla Inc. showroom at the Chamtime Plaza in Shanghai

Shoppers walk past the Tesla Inc. showroom at the Chamtime Plaza in Shanghai

Tesla Inc. has pledged to store any data it collects in China in the country, a month after its cars were banned from military complexes and housing compounds because of concerns about sensitive information being collected by cameras built into the vehicles.

“Tesla China is a company that’s based here and must abide by all Chinese laws and regulations,” Grace Tao, the electric carmaker’s China head of communications and government affairs, said on the sidelines of a meeting that the country’s top planning body held with U.S. companies in Beijing on Tuesday. “In fact, our data will be very well protected. Chinese data will be stored in China.”

China is an increasingly important market for Palo Alto, California-based Tesla and its estimate-smashing deliveries of EVs in the first quarter suggest boss Elon Musk’s bet on growth in Asia’s biggest economy is starting to pay off.

But it hasn’t been all smooth sailing. After its EVs were banned from military complexes in March, Musk strenuously denied the company would ever use a vehicle’s technology for spying; earlier this month, Tesla’s Beijing unit said cameras that are built into its EVs aren’t activated outside of North America.

Tesla will always “cooperate with regulatory authorities at all levels so that consumers can enjoy convenience and safety at the same time,” Tao said.

The National Development and Reform Commission held a roundtable meeting on Tuesday and invited senior executives of companies including Qualcomm Inc. and Dell Technologies Inc. to attend. The NDRC’s meeting was to explain the policies in the nation’s 14th five-year plan.


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Ding Yi / Apr 13, 2021 07:04 PM / Business & Tech

StoneWise, a Chinese medtech startup which uses artificial intelligence (AI) technology to develop medicines, has completed its series B and series B+ funding rounds raising $100 million combined. The funding rounds come as the Covid-19 pandemic serves to highlight the role of AI and other cutting-edge technologies in diagnosing and treating diseases.

The series B round was led by Legend Capital, while the series B+ round was co-led by Greater Bay Area Homeland Development Fund and Lightspeed China. Other investors that joined the two rounds include Eastern Bell Capital, GL Ventures and Long Hill Capital, StoneWise said in a WeChat post on Monday.

Beijing-based StoneWise said it will use the proceeds from the two rounds to bankroll its global talent recruitment and widen the use of its AI technology in drug development.

Founded in 2018, StoneWise provides small molecule drug researchers with a smart drug development platform which is powered by technologies including AI algorithms, computational chemistry, pharmaceutical chemistry and computational biology, and enables the medicine development process to be more time-efficient and cost-effective, according to its website.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com)

Related: China’s Covid Vaccine Drive Derails Routine Inoculations, Experts Say

 


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Ding Yi / Apr 13, 2021 07:02 PM / Business & Tech

Self-driving truck technology developer Plus, which focuses on markets in China, U.S. and Europe, will provide Italian transport vehicle maker IVECO with its automated driving system, expanding the use of its technology in the logistics sector.

The two companies have signed a memorandum of understanding , under which Plus will incorporate its PlusDrive autonomous driving system into IVECO’s latest-generation S-WAY heavy-duty trucks, which will be deployed across China, Europe and other regions, Plus said in a statement on Monday.

The duo will also explore using IVECO’s liquefied natural gas engine system to power the jointly developed autonomous trucks in order to reduce carbon emissions, according to the statement.

“IVECO’s global footprint in over 160 countries will enable us to accelerate our commercial deployment and magnify the impact of our autonomous driving technology,” said Shawn Kerrigan, COO and co-founder of Plus, which is headquartered in Silicon Valley.

Last month, five-year-old Plus said that its PlusDrive system has been selected to power a fleet of trucks which are being deployed in an autonomous freight program piloted by Chinese package delivery service provider SF Express in China.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com)

Related: Self-Driving Truck Firm Plus Announces Participation in Autonomous Freight Program in China

 


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By Ding Yi / Apr 13, 2021 02:24 PM / Business & Tech

Baidu has taken a step closer to becoming China’s first company to earn money from its self-driving technology.

The Chinese search engine giant said on Monday that it has obtained a license to launch a commercial autonomous bus pilot program in the western Chinese city of Chongqing in a renewed effort to explore monetization mechanisms for such services.

The company’s autonomous buses will be deployed on a 10-kilometer route that includes several pick-up and drop-off sites in Chongqing’s Yongchuan district, with passengers being able to book their rides through the Apollo Go app and the Baidu Map app.

Baidu is not the only Chinese company to trial autonomous bus services in China. In January, Nissan-backed WeRide deployed a fleet of robobuses in a government-backed biotech industrial complex in Guangzhou, which the company said is powered by Level 4 autonomous driving technology.

The Chongqing push is Baidu’s second major attempt to accelerate the commercialization of its autonomous vehicle services. In March, the Beijing-based company received a license that allowed it to charge fees via discounts and coupons for its robotaxi service in the northern Chinese city of Cangzhou.

On Monday, Baidu also said that it had signed a deal with the Yongchuan district government to jointly launch a smart transportation pilot project which will be supported by its self-driving, big data and artificial intelligence technologies. The company did not provide further details on the project.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com)

Related: Huawei to Invest $1 Billion on Car Tech It Says Surpasses Tesla


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Ding Yi / Apr 12, 2021 07:07 PM / Business & Tech

China’s Didi Chuxing has reportedly picked Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley to arrange its IPO in New York, which may take place as soon as July, signaling that the U.S. capital markets remain a strong destination for Chinese companies seeking to list despite the American securities watchdog tightening auditing standards for foreign firms.

The SoftBank-backed ride-hailing giant plans to file confidentially for the U.S. listing this month, Reuters reported on Friday, citing sources familiar with the matter. Confidential IPO applications enable companies to keep key operational and financial information out of competitors’ hands for a few extra months.

Last month, Reuters reported that Didi was eyeing a valuation of at least $100 billion via the IPO, which means that it could raise about $10 billion if it sells 10% of its shares, making it the biggest Chinese IPO in the U.S. since Alibaba’s $25 billion float in 2014.

Didi originally selected Hong Kong for its IPO, but later waived the plan due to concerns that the Asian financial hub’s harsher regulatory scrutiny over business practices such as the use of unlicensed vehicles and drivers could lengthen its IPO process, according to Reuters.

Didi did not respond to Caixin’s request for comment.

Friday’s news came as Didi continues to expand its business beyond taxi-hailing services. Didi has doubled down on autonomous driving in recent two years with its latest push happening last month when it signed a deal to conduct testing of fully self-driving vehicles in Guangzhou. Last week, the company said that it would expand its intra-city cargo delivery service launched last June to 11 new Chinese cities later this month, aiming to earn a position in the already crowded on-demand logistics market.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com)

Related: Didi to Expand New Logistics Service From 8 to 19 Cities in China

 


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By Ding Yi / Apr 12, 2021 12:08 PM / Business & Tech

Honor of Kings, a multiplayer role-playing battle game developed by Tencent, outplayed PUBG Mobile as the world’s highest-earning mobile game in March, helped by its huge popularity in its home market of China.

Last month, Honor of Kings pocketed $257.5 million in revenue, representing a year-on-year increase of 63%, according to research firm SensorTower.

The Chinese mainland accounted for 96.3% of Honor of Kings’ total revenue for the month, followed by Thailand with 1.6% and Taiwan with 1.2%, SensorTower said.

PUBG Mobile, a battle royale mobile game developed by Tencent’s Lightspeed & Quantum Studio, took the second spot in March with revenue of $240.5 million, about 59.7% of which came from China, where the game is known as Game for Peace, followed by the U.S. with 9.8%.

In 2020, Tencent’s total online game revenue reached $24 billion, nearly 40% of which was contributed by the company’s Timi Studio, which is responsible for developing Honor of Kings and Call of Duty Mobile. About 29% came from Lightspeed & Quantum Studio, according to Reuters.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com)

Related: Call of Duty Mobile Developer Outplays Games Publisher as Timi Studio Earns More Than Activision Blizzard


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By Ding Yi / Apr 09, 2021 05:51 PM / Business & Tech

China’s ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing has unveiled plans to expand its intra-city cargo delivery service launched last June to 11 new Chinese cities later this month.

Users in the 11 cities, which include Beijing, Hefei, Wenzhou and Wuxi, can place orders on Didi’s China app or its mini program embedded in the social media app WeChat, Didi said in a WeChat post on Thursday.

Beijing-based Didi said that it is installing a security system for its vans that can record audio or video of rides and monitor drivers’ fatigue levels, adding that drivers whose vehicles are fitted with the system will be eligible to receive more orders.

The security move came after a tragedy took place in February, when a woman died after leaping from a moving van she hired from the Hong Kong-based moving company Lalamove, triggering public concern over the safety of using van-hailing services.

The expansion plan brings the total number of cities where Didi’s freight delivery service is available to 19, according to the company.

Besides Lalamove, Didi also faces competition in China from SoftBank-backed Manbang Group and JD.com-endorsed Fuyou Kache, among others.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com)

Related: Despite Pledge to Change After Rider’s Death, It’s Business as Usual at Lalamove


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By Ding Yi / Apr 09, 2021 04:54 PM / Business & Tech

U.S.-listed Chinese electric vehicle startup Li Auto is raising $750 million through the sale of convertible senior notes to fund its research and development, as the company steps up efforts to compete with established players and newcomers like Baidu and Xiaomi.

Carrying an annual interest rate of 0.25%, the notes will mature in 2028, and can be converted into Li Auto’s American depositary shares at $28.34 apiece, representing a 27.5% premium on the closing price on Wednesday, the carmaker said in a statement on Thursday.

Beijing-based Li Auto said that it plans to use the proceeds for the research and development of new vehicle models and technologies and for general corporate purposes.

The announcement came just a week after smartphone maker Xiaomi joined the electric vehicle manufacturing fray with a massive plan to invest $10 billion in the business over the next decade.

Li Auto, which is reportedly mulling a secondary listing in Hong Kong, delivered 4,900 Li ONE plug-in hybrids in March, up 239% year-on-year. The company began delivering the Li ONE, its first car model, in December 2019, and plans to launch a second model next year.

In the fourth quarter of 2020, Li Auto became profitable, marking its first time in the black since it started deliveries of the Li ONE, which the company attributed to its investment in short-term wealth management products.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com)

Related: Xiaomi Joins Electric Car Race With $10 Billion Investment Plan


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