China's BYD, Momenta enter venture for autonomous driving technology

Woman walks past a BYD sign at the second media day for the Shanghai auto show in Shanghai
A woman walks past a BYD sign at the second media day for the Shanghai auto show in Shanghai, China April 17, 2019. REUTERS/Aly Song

BEIJING, Dec 27 (Reuters) - China's BYD (002594.SZ) and autonomous driving startup Momenta have established a 100 million yuan ($15.7 million) joint venture to deploy autonomous driving capabilities across certain BYD car model lines, according to a Momenta statement and a person familiar with the matter.

The new venture, called DiPi Intelligent Mobility Co and located in Shenzhen, combines BYD's capabilities as an automaker with Momenta's experience in intelligent driving, said the statement on Monday.

BYD has invested 60 million yuan in the venture while Beijing-based Momenta is investing 40 million yuan, the person said.

The person said the initial scope of work will include deploying “Level 2 plus” autonomous driving capability across some vehicle model lines.

Level 2 semi-autonomous cars have technology that can take care of nearly all aspects of driving, from steering to acceleration and braking, but the driver needs to be ready to intervene if needed.

Asked about the tie-up, a BYD spokesperson referred to Momenta's press release. BYD declined to comment further.

Automakers and technology firms are investing billions of dollars in autonomous driving, aiming to take an early lead in what many consider the future of mobility.

Earlier this month SAIC Mobility, a unit of Chinese automaker SAIC Motor (600104.SS) and Momenta began offering autonomous robotaxi test rides to the public in a Shanghai district as part of a trial.

In November, Chinese search engine giant Baidu Inc (9888.HK) and self-driving startup won approval to launch paid driverless robotaxi services in China's capital Beijing.

($1 = 6.3711 Chinese yuan renminbi)

Reporting By Norihiko Shirouzu in Beijing; Editing by Bernadette Baum

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