SAIC, Haier said to unite in latest big push into smart cars

Chinese carmaker SAIC Motor Corp. and appliance giant Haier Group Corp. signed a preliminary agreement to jointly develop intelligent transportation systems and smart homes, according to two people familiar with the matter.

The duo will cooperate in areas including autonomous driving and lightweight-material development and establish a fund to invest in areas such as intelligent manufacturing, the people said, asking not to be named discussing information that isn’t public.

The agreement, signed Thursday, also involves Haier investing in a SAIC unit that will be set up to develop autonomous driving technology at Yangshan Port to the south of Shanghai, the people said, without disclosing any financial details.

A SAIC representative confirmed the two companies have signed a cooperation agreement and said more details will be announced in due course. A representative from Haier wasn’t immediately available for comment.

Chinese automakers and technology behemoths are making a concerted push into electric vehicles and autonomous driving, teaming together on several projects as investors flock to the space, driving up valuations for companies that made early moves into the future of transport.

SAIC and e-commerce heavyweight Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. unveiled their IM brand EV sedan in January and are due to start taking orders next month. Carmaker Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co. and search-engine giant Baidu Inc. said in January they’d jointly produce smart EVs too, while smartphone maker Xiaomi Corp. said in February it was monitoring developments in the sector.

Elsewhere, Apple Inc. is being closely watched to see if it chooses a partner for a self-driving EV venture.

Read More: Auto News

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