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Thursday, Jul 29, 2021

Chinese Automaker Xpeng Motors Set to Develop Chips for Autonomous Vehicles Amid Global Chip Crunch

Chinese Automaker Xpeng Motors Set to Develop Chips for Autonomous Vehicles Amid Global Chip Crunch

The news comes after news the Guangzhou-based tech giant said it had built a small team to develop the chips amid the ongoing global semiconductor crisis and pandemic, Chinese tech news website 36Kr reported this month, and as rival automakers Tesla, BMW, Volkswagen and others compete for the Chinese auto market.

Chinese electric automaker Xpeng Motors has announced it may produce its own semiconductors for autonomous vehicles, a top exec from the firm told CNBC on Thursday.

According to Xinzhou Wu, vice-president of autonomous driving, the firm would explore numerous technologies such as chips for its autonomous vehicles.

“Well, I cannot say too much about that ... the competition in China market is fierce … so we are looking at all options. What are the best ways to keep our advantage in the competition? So so far we are doing very well in software. But moving forward we are looking at all possible options: how to keep us … winning this competition,” Wu told CNBC.

Speaking on whether the firm would explore building its own in-house chips, he added: "That's one of the directions, yes."

According to CNBC, developing in-house chips would allow the company better control and deeper synergy between its hardware components and software.

Wu claimed the P5′s hardware and software and “usability of the overall features is much more advanced” than its competitors — and that would give the company an “edge.”

The news comes after Xpeng launched on Wednesday its new P5 electric sedan, which implements Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) technology, or laser assisted environment mapping.

The LIDAR sensors on the P5 are vital to the vehicle's autonomous driving capabilities. The sedan also uses Nvidia and Qualcomm components for autonomous driving and its heads up display, respectively, according to CNBC.

Wu concluded the P5's usability and overall features were "much more advanced" that competitors, allowing the company an "edge" over rivals.

The news comes as numerous Chinese tech giants join the global tech race amid the US trade war on China. Mainland smartphone giant Xiaomi aimed to build electric vehicles by April this year, according to Chinese media reports in March.

Search engine giant Baidu said on Monday it had completed $2bn in fundraising for its artificial intelligence (AI) chipmaker Kunlun with numerous investors, with Civic Private Equity Funds Management (CPE) leading the talks.

Domestic chip production efforts also come amid a major global semiconductor shortage crisis, which has badly hit major tech and automotive firms such as Apple, Samsung, Honda, General Motors and many others in recent months.

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