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Nvidia achieves success in China by riding on electric vehicle boom

Nvidia achieves success in China by riding on electric vehicle boom

On May 10, 2018, in Santa Clara, California, a sign was posted in front of Nvidia’s headquarters.

Justin Sullivan | Getty Images

Several Chinese electric car manufacturers turn to US chip giant Nvidia to power their semi-autonomous driving systems as they ramp up the competition with Tesla in the largest car market in the world.

Chinese start-ups xpeng and Nioz use the Nvidia Drive Orin chip in their latest cars. Baidu, which launched an auto unit called Jidu last year, announced plans to use the same Nvidia chip in its upcoming car, as well as Polestar, a brand under the Chinese auto giant. Geely.

With this chipset and associated software platform, Nvidia promises the possibilities for fully autonomous driving.

“For a Chinese EV company, or globally, there isn’t much that matches what Nvidia can offer,” said Bevin Jacob, partner at Shanghai-based investment and consulting firm Automobility.

However, these Chinese car manufacturers do not release fully autonomous cars. Instead, they focus on so-called advanced driver assistance system, or ADAS. These are systems that allow the car to perform some functions semi-autonomously, such as changing lanes. For example, Tesla’s ADAS is called Autopilot while Xpeng’s system is Xpilot.

According to Aakash Arora, managing director and partner at Boston Consulting Group, ADAS — along with other features such as fast charging and range — are “the key differentiators” in the high-end electric vehicle space.

“Most EV models today compete in price segments where having ADAS is critical from a customer expectation perspective,” Arora said. “Early adopters of EVs are also likely to be early adopters of technology and value technology features more.”

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