Nio and Didi may merge their autonomous driving businesses

Both companies are seeking ways to cut costs.

Photo:Shutterstock.com

Chinese electric vehicle maker Nio’s founder Li Bin and China’s largest ride-hailing platform Didi are conducting negotiations to merge their autonomous driving businesses, Tencent’s online news portal QQ.com reported on Monday, citing people close to the matter. Tencent is an investor of Nio.

When contacted by KrASIA on Tuesday, Nio declined to comment on the matter.

A Didi spokesperson told KrASIA that the company has no plans for a merger of this nature. He also said that Didi will continue to collaborate with stakeholders in the automobile industry.

To cut costs, Nio is downsizing its US workforce but has retained employees that are part of its autonomous driving business, according to QQ.com. Didi has just spun off its autonomous driving business, setting it up as an independent company.

Nio’s ES8 and ES6 models feature Level 2 autonomous driving capabilities including partial automation, meaning the vehicle can control steering, acceleration, and braking, but falls short of self-driving, requiring a human to take control at any given moment.

In May, Didi showcased an autonomous vehicle at an auto show in Eastern China’s Suzhou province. The car was one of the 40 autonomous vehicles that the company has co-developed with multiple automakers.

Both companies are in need of funds to sustain their current business and spur future growth.

Nio booked USD 390.9 million in net losses in the first quarter of this year, up 71.4% year-on-year. It is also planning to spin off of its recharging service, Nio Power, to seek equity financing of “billions of yuan” in the fourth quarter of this year.

Earlier in the year, a financial data leak revealed that Didi racked up a deficit reaching RMB 10.9 billion (USD 1.54 billion) in the 2018 financial year.

Didi has kicked off a new round of financing, aiming to raise up to USD 2 billion from investors, the Wall Street Journal reported in July.