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General Motors Invests $300 Million in Chinese Autonomous Driving Startup Momenta

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【Summary】​GM announced on Thursday that its making a $300 million investment in Chinese autonomous driving startup Momenta, which will help the company accelerate the development of self-driving technologies for future GM vehicles in China.

Eric Walz    Sep 23, 2021 9:30 AM PT
General Motors Invests $300 Million in Chinese Autonomous Driving Startup Momenta

Automakers around the world are entering into partnerships with tech startups to accelerate the development of autonomous driving technology for their model lineups. Some examples are Ford Motor Company and Volkswagen's partnership with Argo AI and the General Motors partnership with San Francisco-based Cruise. Now GM is making another big investment in China.

GM announced on Thursday that its making a $300 million investment in Chinese autonomous driving startup Momenta, which will help the company accelerate the development of self-driving technologies for future GM vehicles in China.

China is an important market for GM, as well as for many of the world's carmakers, as it's the world's biggest auto market. Backed by strong government support for advanced mobility technologies, China is emerging as a world leader in the development of self-driving technology and electric cars, including building autonomous vehicles for commercial mobility services.

"Customers in China are embracing electrification and advanced self-driving technology faster than anywhere else in the world, and the agreement between GM and Momenta will accelerate our deployment of next-generation solutions tailor-made for our consumers in China," said Julian Blissett, executive vice president of General Motors and president of GM China. 

Momenta was founded in 2016 and is based in Beiling. The company bills itself as a tier 2 software provider developing solutions for Tier 1 suppliers and OEMs adding autonomous capability to their models.

Momenta's fully autonomous driving solution is designed to replace drivers and be widely deployed in taxis and private vehicles.

As a young startup, Momenta was part of the Nvidia Inception Program, an accelerator which provides deep-learning support from Nvidia for exceptional startups who are revolutionizing industries with advances in AI and data science. As part of the program, Nvidia provides market support, expertise and access to its powerful hardware technologies.

"Momenta is committed to developing breakthrough artificial intelligence solutions to push beyond the frontier of possibilities today and significantly improve personal mobility experiences. Together with GM, we will jointly invest in autonomous vehicle technologies to enhance driving safety, convenience and efficiency," said Xudong Cao, CEO of Momenta.

Momenta's advanced technology has led to investments from other automakers as well. In March, Momenta announced a $500 million funding round led by Chinese automaker SAIC Motor, Toyota Motor and auto parts supplier Bosch. Other investors in the funding round include Daimler AG, Yunfeng Capital and Tencent. 

In 2020, Toyota partnered with Momenta to develop a high definition (HD) mapping platform in China for autonomous driving vehicles.

GM envisions a world with zero crashes, zero emissions and zero congestion. To address these three goals, GM will require advanced autonomous driving technology that can prevent accidents, become an electric automaker like Tesla, and develop autonomous vehicles for commercial mobility services. 

Investments in companies like Momenta will help the automaker reach its goals. GM is investing billions of dollars in electrification and self-driving cars over the next five years. In June, GM announced it will invest a total of $35 billion from 2020 to 2025 as it looks to take on companies like Tesla, which has grown to become the world's most valuable automaker. 

GM is also facing growing competition in China from EV startup automakers NIO Inc and XPeng, both of which are developing advanced autonomous driving technology tailored for China's roads. 

As a result, GM said it's expanding its design and engineering facilities for EVs and autonomous driving in China. It includes bigger investments in increasing capability to deliver over-the-air software updates via GM's Vehicle Intelligent Platform, as well as 5G-powered connectivity services. GM is also preparing to roll out its global Ultium EV platform which will serve as a platform for GM's future EVs sold in China.

GM said the timeline for the deployment of next-generation advanced self-driving technologies in China and other details will be shared closer to production.

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