Smartphone giant Xiaomi on Wednesday announced that it is acquiring Deepmotion, a Beijing-based startup that develops digital mapping technology for autonomous vehicles. 

Why it matters: The acquisition is Xiaomi’s latest move in its bid to build its own intelligent connected cars. An expansion into China’s auto sector could greatly expand Xiaomi’s mobile ecosystem and create new revenue streams for the company.

Details: Xiaomi has reached an agreement to acquire Deepmotion Tech Ltd in a cash-and-stock deal valued at $77.37 million, according to the smartphone maker’s quarterly results, released Wednesday. The company did not reveal when it expects the deal to close.

  • In an earnings call on Wednesday, Xiaomi’s president Wang Xiang said the purchase is aimed at accelerating the consumer electronics giant’s plan to develop autonomous driving technologies, which Wang called the most crucial part of intelligent and electric vehicles.
  • Wang added that the company has been aggressively recruiting automotive engineers, and has established its self-driving team with a batch of 500 experts after kicking off its electric vehicle project in March.

Context: Xiaomi has struck several deals to invest in autonomous driving startups in recent months, as the Chinese tech giant ramps up its efforts to develop driverless car technology and mass produce  its first EV in the next three years.

  • The company earlier this month raised its stakes in Geometrical Pal, a startup that develops software solutions that allow radar sensors in AVs to sense the environment. Xiaomi also invested in self-driving software developer Zongmu Technology in June, Bloomberg reported.
  • Deepmotion was formed in mid-2017 by four computer scientists from Microsoft Research Asia, the research arm of the US tech company in the Asia Pacific region. In March 2018, the startup raised “dozens of millions of US dollars” from venture capital firms Redpoint China Ventures and Source Code Capital.

Jill Shen

Jill Shen is Shanghai-based technology reporter. She covers Chinese mobility, autonomous vehicles, and electric cars. Connect with her via e-mail: jill.shen@technode.com or Twitter: @yushan_shen