Chinese premium electric vehicle brand Denza on Tuesday revealed a cheaper version of its advanced driver assistance system (ADAS) in collaboration with US chipmaker Nvidia, as the BYD affiliate ramps up efforts to compete against leading self-driving players such as Xpeng Motors and Huawei.
Denza is also eyeing overseas expansion, having established its presence in the China market with year-to-date deliveries of nearly 80,000 EVs as of August. The company expects overseas sales to begin as early as next year, including in Australia, Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and Europe.
Why it matters: The companies said the launch of the affordable assisted driving technology could reduce the barrier to a transition to intelligent mobility. The system facilitates Denza’s vehicles to navigate most highways in China as well as some busy urban streets in major domestic cities.
- BYD launched the N7 crossover under the Denza marque in July, with the top-end version powered by Nvidia’s DRIVE Orin processor, which offers 254 trillion operations per second (or TOPS). Now all N7 models can be equipped with Nvidia’s DRIVE Orin chips for automated driving, according to a Wednesday statement.
Details: The new autonomous driving system will enable on-ramp to off-ramp driving, as well as automatic lane changing on Chinese highways, for Denza’s flagship N7 SUV. It has a price tag of RMB 15,000 ($2,053) and is powered by Nvidia’s DRIVE Orin processor, which can handle up to 84 TOPS. The N7 SUVs that feature the technology will have two lidar sensors removed to reduce costs.
- The companies say that the higher-end version, priced at RMB 23,000, will allow the vehicles to function by themselves on bustling city streets for the daily commute, using a feature named City NOA (Navigate On Autopilot). Denza’s general manager Zhao Changjiang said the company would release its Highway NOA feature to N7 owners starting in December, followed by an over-the-air update of the City NOA early next year.
- Tong Liu, vice president and general manager of China auto business at Nvidia, said that he was “impressed” by the efforts made by BYD in developing intelligent cars over the course of their three-year collaboration, calling BYD/Denza a “strong advocate” of commercializing self-driving technology (our translation). BYD’s Dynasty and Ocean lineups are also using Nvidia’s semiconductor.
Context: Several Chinese auto and tech companies have announced ambitious plans for the adoption of assisted driving technologies for urban driving, akin to Tesla’s full self-driving (FSD) function that has yet to be made available in the country.
- Volkswagen-backed Xpeng Motors in June launched its City Navigation Guided Pilot feature in Beijing and is on track to expand the capability in at least 50 domestic cities by the end of this year, while Great Wall Motor has set a target of covering 100 cities by 2024.
- In the meantime, Li Auto vehicles will be able to navigate on fixed routes for daily commuters in 100 major Chinese cities by year-end, following weeks of training with its collection of datasets. Rivals Nio and Geely’s Zeekr are also planning to roll out similar features later this year.
- Huawei is by far the most ambitious company in the field in China, with its head of consumer business Richard Yu stating on Sept. 12 that Huawei’s self-driving system would be applicable nationwide for both highway and urban driving with Aito-branded EVs by December, Caixin reported.
- BYD has made a series of moves in recent months to enhance its research and development capacity, especially for autonomous driving, including organizational restructuring and talent hiring. More than 80% of the 30,000 fresh graduates recruited by the company this year were research personnel.