Business Venture

SoftBank Revs Up Didi’s Autonomous Driving Engine With $500M Investment

China’s ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing raised more than $500 million for its autonomous driving subsidiary in a funding round led by SoftBank’s Vision Fund 2, the company said Friday.

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It’s the first fundraising round for that business since it was spun off into its own company in August 2019. Didi touts the funding as the single largest investment in China’s autonomous driving sector.

The new capital infusion will be used to research and develop its autonomous driving technology, as well as test it, Didi said in a written statement. In addition, the funding will aid in the deployment of autonomous driving services in specific areas in China and abroad. The company said it also has plans to mass-produce autonomous driving vehicles with auto industry partners.

Japanese tech giant SoftBank launched its Vision Fund 2 in July 2019 with the plan to have it become a $108 billion fund that would complement its $100 billion Vision Fund. However, The Wall Street Journal reports that after several big investments failed from the first fund, contributions to the second fund have not yet met the proposed target.

Meanwhile, autonomous driving technology continues to attract investors. Waymo, the self-driving technology being developed under the Alphabet umbrella, raised $2.5 billion back in March. Then earlier this month, it raised an additional $750 million. And in February, China’s Pony.ai raised $462 million.

Illustration: Li-Anne Dias

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