General Motors has now joined a slew of other major automakers, including Chinese state-backed Toyota, SAIC Motor, and Mercedes-Benz AG in donating its tokens to Chinese self-driving startup Momenta.
GM, the largest US automaker in terms of vehicle sales, said on Tuesday it would invest $ 300 million in Momenta to accelerate the development of AV technology for future GM vehicles in China. Julian Blissett, executive vice president of GM and chairman of GM China, said in a statement that the investment will help the automaker deliver “tailor-made solutions for [GM’s] consumers in China.
The news comes less than six months after Momenta closed a nearly $ 500 million funding round, which included SAIC, Toyota, Mercedes-Benz AG and Bosch. As TechCrunch’s Rita Liao notes, “Mega fundraising has become mainstream in the world of capital-intensive autonomous vehicles.” But it looks like the startup is getting closer to commercialization as it aims to mass-produce cars equipped with its software by the end of this year.
This is just GM’s latest aggressive investment in next-generation technology, which in June said it had earmarked $ 35 billion for power and audiovisual projects through 2025. Here in the United States, the GM’s interest in autonomous technology is best known through its self-driving subsidiary, Cruise, which recently tapped a $ 5 billion line of credit from the automaker’s finance company.
But GM has also established a solid series of partnerships in China, as it seeks to establish a solid foothold in the world’s largest electric vehicle market. The country’s best-selling electric vehicle, a small city car called the Wuling Mini EV, is made by SAIC-GM-Wuling – as the name suggests, a joint venture between GM, SAIC and Wuling Motors. SAIC-GM-Wuling also manufactures the popular Baojun brand.
The Chinese municipal government has also taken a particularly progressive stance towards autonomous driving, Chinese AV startup executives told TC Mobility in June.
“In China, every local government has an incentive to really act like entrepreneurs like us,” said Huan Sun, Managing Director Europe of Momenta, at the event. “They are very progressive in developing the local economy… What we believe is that autonomous driving technology can greatly improve and upgrade the [local governments’] economic structure.
While GM declined to say when drivers would see Momenta technology in its Chinese vehicles, a spokesperson for the automaker confirmed the partnership between the two companies would not extend to GM vehicles made and sold in the United States. .