Chinese automaker BYD said on Wednesday it is partnering with US autonomous driving startup Nuro to make electric robocars for goods delivery services.  

Why it matters: The partnership is the latest example of Chinese automakers working with overseas tech companies to build autonomous vehicles.

Details: BYD is currently working with Nuro to design and develop the latter’s next-generation autonomous delivery robots, which will be equipped with components provided by the automaker such as electric motors and lithium-iron-phosphate blade batteries, according to a Thursday announcement. 

  • Softbank-backed Nuro plans to begin mass production next year of the low-speed vehicles, which come with two spacious cargo areas and an external airbag for pedestrian safety, as it scales up production at its currently under construction manufacturing facility in Nevada, according to TechCrunch
  • The two companies expect the collaboration to help scale Nuro’s last-mile delivery services to “millions of people” in the US.

Context: Nuro was co-founded in 2016 by Zhu Jiajun and Dave Ferguson, two former engineers at Google’s self-driving car project. The company announced in December 2020 that it had received first-of-its-kind approval by US regulators to operate and charge for its driverless delivery services, TechCrunch reported.

  • Warren Buffet-backed BYD formed an alliance with Japanese automaker Toyota in mid-2019 to jointly develop electric vehicles, which they expected to hit the Chinese market under the Toyota brand name by 2025.
  • Another Chinese auto major Geely said earlier this month that its premium EV brand Zeekr is working with Intel’s autonomous driving unit Mobileye to develop electric and autonomous passenger vehicles, aiming for release as early as 2024 in China, according to TechCrunch.

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