China's Geely invests $326 mln to build satellites for autonomous cars

BEIJING, March 3 (Reuters) - China’s Zhejiang Geely Holding Group said on Tuesday it was investing 2.27 billion yuan ($326 million) in a new satellite manufacturing plant, where it plans to build low-orbit satellites to provide more accurate data for self-driving cars.

Geely, one of China’s most internationally-known companies due to its investments in Daimler, Volvo and Proton, is building the facilities in Taizhou, where it has car plants. It aims to produce 500 satellites a year by around 2025, with around 300 highly-skilled staff, it said in a statement.

Geely’s technology development arm, Geely Technology Group, launched Geespace to research, launch, and operate low-orbit satellites in 2018.

Geespace will begin the launch of its commercial low-orbit satellite network by the end of this year, Geely said.

Geely said low-orbit satellites would offer high speed internet connectivity, precise navigation, and cloud computing capabilities to cars with autonomous driving technology.

Geely, which sold 2.18 million cars last year, is among global automakers from Tesla to Toyota to pursue autonomous driving technologies.

It is building low-orbit satellites to meet demand for high-speed connectivity capabilities that can deliver fast software updates. From around 2025, Geely’s cars will have more functions to connect to the satellites.

$1 = 6.9614 Chinese yuan renminbi Reporting by Yilei Sun and Brenda Goh; Editing by Mark Potter