William Li is being mobbed. At a gala dinner in Shanghai, the founder of Chinese electric carmaker Nio Inc. can barely move forward in the buffet queue before being stopped for another selfie, handshake or hug. Swapping his usual attire of jeans and a T-shirt for a tailored grey suit and blue dress shirt, the tall 46-year-old happily obliges with a smile. Li manages to spoon a small amount of fried rice and vegetables onto his plate, but he's not here for the food. Over the next three hours, Li poses for hundreds more photos, chatting with customers of the automaker he started just over six years ago and has built into a way of life -- at least for the people who buy his cars -- with clubhouses, a round-the-clock battery recharging service and even clothing, food and exercise equipment, all decked out in Nio's geometric logo. As Li works the room, a video backdrop shows six performers, each wearing a different-colored Nio hoodie, singing a self-composed song dedicated to the company.
These three companies--the so-called BATs--are plowing millions of dollars into electric-vehicle startups, car-sharing services and online retailers, as well as software platforms for autonomous driving and online car selling. U.S. tech companies, notably Alphabet Inc. and its self-driving car unit Waymo, also are pushing into the auto sector. But the BAT companies have a big advantage in China, where tight government internet controls make it difficult for foreign enterprises to compete. For example, non-Chinese companies aren't allowed to operate digital mapping systems needed for autonomous driving. That has prompted both foreign and domestic auto companies like Ford Motor Co., BMW AG, SAIC Motor Corp. and Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co. to seal tech partnerships with the BAT firms.
Tesla's electric car rivals in China are continuing to grow as smartphone maker Xiaomi announced Tuesday that it is jumping into the EV arena. The company said in a regulatory filing that it will invest $10 billion into its electric car business over the next 10 years as it sets up a wholly-owned subsidiary. Its initial investment into the car unit will equal 10 billion yuan, or about $1.52 billion, according to the filing. Xiaomi may invest up to 100 billion yuan into the electric vehicle business over the course of the next three years, taking external financing into account, with 60% contributed by the company and the remaining balance in raised funds, sources told Bloomberg before the company's announcement. At the helm of the smart electric vehicle business will be Xiaomi CEO Lei Jun.
Six months after the Trump administration dealt a crushing blow to Huawei Technologies Co.'s smartphone business, the Chinese telecommunications giant is turning to less glamorous alternatives that may eventually offset the decline of its biggest revenue contributor. Among its newest customers is a fish farm in eastern China that's twice the size of New York's Central Park. The farm is covered with tens of thousands of solar panels outfitted with Huawei's inverters to shield its fish from excessive sunlight while generating power. About 370 miles to the west in coal-rich Shanxi province, wireless sensors and cameras deep beneath the earth monitor oxygen levels and potential machine malfunctions in mine pit -- all supplied by the tech titan. And next month, a shiny new electric car featuring its lidar sensor will debut at China's largest auto show.
Beyond trendy names like Tesla and Alphabet chasing self-driving cars, a host of auto brands and other tech heavyweights are also investing in autonomous R&D. Private companies working in auto tech are attracting record levels of deals and funding, with autonomous driving startups leading the charge. Along with early-stage startups, VCs, and other investors, large corporations are also angling to get a slice of the self-driving pie. From autonomy to telematics to ride sharing, the auto industry has never been at more risk. Get the free 67-page report PDF. Using CB Insights' investment, acquisition, and partnership data, we identified over 40 companies developing road-going self-driving vehicles. They are a diverse group of players, ranging from automotive industry stalwarts to leading technology brands and telecommunications companies. This list is organized alphabetically and focuses on larger corporate players in the space (as opposed to earlier-stage startups). Companies working on industrial autonomous vehicles were not included in this analysis. A few of the companies or brands listed below belong to the same parent organization but are detailed separately if they are operating distinct autonomous development programs. Some companies are grouped together by key partnerships or alliances. Given the complex web of relationships between these players, other collaborations are also noted in each profile. This is not intended to be an exhaustive list of corporations working on autonomous vehicle technology. This brief was originally published on 9/25/2015 and featured 25 select corporations. It was updated and expanded on 5/17/2017, 9/4/2018, and 8/28/2019. Over the last decade, Amazon has spent billions of dollars working on finding ever-better solutions to the last-mile problem in delivery. It's built its own fleet of cargo jets, explored delivery by drone in the form of "Prime Air," and more. More recently, an increasing percentage of that investment has been directed toward autonomous vehicle technology. In February 2019, Amazon invested in Aurora Innovation, an autonomous tech startup run by former executives from two other firms with strong ties to self-driving technology: Google and Tesla. "Autonomous technology has the potential to help make the jobs of our employees and partners safer and more productive, whether it's in a fulfillment center or on the road, and we're excited about the possibilities." The Aurora investment isn't the only autonomous technology play that Amazon is pursuing. In January 2019, the company introduced the Amazon Scout, a six-wheeled electric-powered delivery robot.