Chinese Electric Vehicle Startups Turn to Nvidia in the Race to Catch Tesla

Chinese Electric Vehicle Startups Turn to Nvidia in the Race to Catch Tesla

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U.S. high-performance chipmaker Nvidia Corp said it has landed more deals with Chinese electric vehicle makers that want to use the company’s technology to power software-driven features that could lure customers away from Tesla.

Nvidia vice president Ali Kani used a presentation to the CES technology conference to list several Chinese electric vehicle (EV) makers that will use Nvidia’s DRIVE technology as part of the computer brains of new vehicles, including Polestar, Xpeng, NIO, IM Motors, Li Auto and R Auto.

Nvidia said auto suppliers and contract manufacturers Desay, Flex, Quanta, Valeo and ZF also will use its Drive platform as the foundation for automated driving systems in vehicles they engineer for EV brands.

Nvidia has said previously that it has $8 billion in automotive revenue booked over the next six years. Tuesday’s presentation underscored the importance of China’s dynamic EV sector to the U.S. chip company’s effort to expand its automotive business, now a small part of its total annual revenue, projected at more than $26 billion.

Nvidia is also looking for growth in the emerging automated truck business, and earlier Tuesday said robo-truck developer TuSimple will use Nvidia chips to develop self-driving semi-trucks.

Nvidia must navigate through U.S.-China tensions, and Chinese regulations that effectively prohibit data generated by vehicles in China from being exported. Nvidia uses Chinese partners and Chinese data centres to assure data used to train the artificial intelligence in cars stays in China, said Danny Shapiro, Nvidia’s vice president for automotive.

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Automakers new and old are racing to match the software-powered features pioneered by Tesla, which can change the way vehicles perform, the range of the battery or the level of self-driving capability via over-the-air updates.

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High-powered onboard computers are essential to what the industry calls “software-driven vehicles.” That is creating new markets for companies such as Nvidia, whose core business is designing powerful chips for data processing centers and videogame equipment.

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