DiDi Chuxing in Talks with SoftBank for Investment in Self-Driving Vehicles

Didi is backed by SoftBank Group, which is also the biggest shareholder in U.S. ride-hailing giant Uber Technologies. (Photo by Taro Yokosawa)

The Information has reported that China’s ride hailing giant Didi Chuxing is currently in talks with Japanese investment behemoth SoftBank to raise capital to fund the substantial development of self-driving vehicles. SoftBank has long shown concrete interest in the autonomous vehicle space, investing Uber’s autonomous vehicle project earlier this year, while also owning a stake in General Motors’ Cruise, which is working on autonomous taxis for San Francisco.

Due to the capital intensive nature of autonomous vehicle research and implementation, many companies in this space are looking for outside investment to spur growth. The negotiation between Didi and SoftBank only confirms this rising trend.

Didi has previously showcased serious ambitions to expand into autonomous driving, signing an alliance with 31 other automotive companies including the likes of Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi to collaborate in areas such as fleet management, car manufacturing and autonomous driving. Didi also established a joint venture with China’s BAIC and Volkswagen to develop “next-generation connected-car systems” and technologies related to ride-hailing services.

In addition, Didi has established its own R&D center called Didi Labs in California to develop its own technologies for autonomous driving. The company founded an autonomous driving subsidiary in China earlier this year.