According to Bloomberg News, the troubled Chinese EV maker NIO is running against Tesla, choosing to strengthen cooperation with Intel’s atonomous driving technology company Mobileye to develop self-driving vehicles.
As early as 2016, Mobileye was also a supplier of Tesla, providing technical support for Tesla’s autopilot system. Later, due to various conflicts, the two sides parted ways. At the time, Tesla CEO Musk also said: “Mobileye’s technological advancement is based on long-term cooperation with other traditional car manufacturers, which has affected its synchronization development with Tesla. Tesla needs to vigorously develop integrated platform for autonomous driving. “
For the past three years, NIO has been cooperating with Mobileye. The two parties also announced in November last year that they had reached a strategic cooperation to build an L4 autonomous driving model based on NIO’s second-generation vehicle platform.
Currently, NIO is cooperating with Mobileye to improve the performance of the autonomous driving assistance system – NIO Pilot. NIO Pilot already has functions such as automatic emergency braking and lane change. The new version will incorporate technologies designed by both parties for fully autonomous driving systems, including lidar sensors.
These changes will improve NIO Pilot’s driving range and ability to detect targets, make cars safer, and allow them to drive in more complex traffic environments, said Jamie Carlson, NIO’s vice president of autonomous driving. Carlson was a Tesla engineer who was responsible for the development of these systems.
The data obtained will help NIO achieve its long-term goal of delivering fully autonomous vehicles by 2022. As of December 31, NIO’s total sales were 31,913 units, and its models are only available in the Chinese market. Carlson did not provide a timetable for NIO to introduce a change in fully autonomous vehicles.
Due to economic and tariff uncertainties, slowing car sales, and the government’s reduction of electric vehicle subsidies, NIO faces pressure in the Chinese market. Tesla began delivering its first Chinese-made Model 3 a few weeks ago, BMW and Mercedes also plan to produce electric sport utility vehicles (SUVs) in China.
NIO also faces financial resistance. The company warned in December 2019 that it still didn’t have enough cash to keep the company running for another year, even after cutting thousands of jobs and cutting marketing expenses.
As part of the fiscal austerity, NIO has cut its research and development budget. Carlson said the company has also laid off 91 positions in its autonomous driving team due to cost savings from working with Mobileye. The team currently has about 60 people in San Jose, California, and about 100 people in China.
The cooperation between NIO and Mobileye includes: Mobileye is responsible for providing Weilai’s leading Mobileye EyeQ® system chip and related software, and NIO is responsible for the development, integration and mass production of vehicle-level autonomous driving systems. At the same time, the two parties will also sell advanced driving systems to other automakers.