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Horizon Robotics revving up smart vehicle ops

By MA SI | China Daily | Updated: 2024-05-21 10:36
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Visitors gather at the booth of Horizon Robotics during an automobile expo in Shanghai in April 2023. [Photo/China Daily]

Horizon Robotics, a Chinese provider of intelligent driving technologies to major automakers like Volkswagen and BYD, is stepping up its push to tap into the burgeoning market for intelligent vehicles.

"We strive to empower every passenger vehicle with our advanced driver assistance systems and autonomous driving solutions," said Yu Kai, founder and CEO of Horizon Robotics.

The Beijing-based company recently unveiled its latest autonomous driving system — Horizon SuperDrive.

Leveraging Horizon's signature software and hardware co-optimization capabilities, Horizon Super-Drive is designed to achieve safe and reliable autonomous driving across all urban, highway and parking scenarios, the company said.

Horizon SuperDrive is able to handle complex road conditions, akin to experienced drivers, featuring smooth obstacle avoidance, gentle braking, dynamic speed control, smooth execution of unprotected left turns and more, Horizon Robotics said, adding that the solution is poised to accelerate the commercialization of advanced smart driving systems, paving the way for widespread cost-effective adoption and mass production.

The company has a 21.3 percent share of the ADAS market in China, making it the second-largest vendor in the country as of last year, only behind Israeli firm Mobileye, according to figures from China Insights Consultancy.

The global market size of ADAS and AD reached 61.9 billion yuan ($8.6 billion) in 2023, and is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 49.2 percent to more than 1 trillion yuan by 2030, said the consultancy.

To seek better development, Horizon Robotics filed to sell an undisclosed amount of shares in Hong Kong in March to capitalize on increasing consumer demand for autonomous driving technology both domestically and internationally.

The tech unicorn reached a valuation of $8.7 billion in late 2022 after raising $210 million during a Series D funding round.

According to its prospectus, China's SAIC, Volkswagen and BYD hold stakes of 10 percent, 2.6 percent, and 0.1 percent in the company, respectively. Horizon reported revenue of nearly 1.6 billion yuan in 2023, up from 906 million yuan in the previous year, with net loss narrowing from 1.9 billion yuan to 1.6 billion yuan.

In 2022, Volkswagen inked a 2.4 billion euro ($2.61 billion) deal with Horizon Robotics to develop driving-assist functions for its electric vehicles.

Volkswagen said at the time that the deal with Horizon was its largest single investment in China, showcasing its long-term commitment to the world's largest auto market.

Horizon, backed by investors such as HongShan, formerly known as Sequoia Capital China, and Hillhouse Investment, plans to use the proceeds to expand into overseas markets, including Japan, South Korea and Europe.

China has the potential to become the world's largest market for autonomous vehicles, according to consultancy McKinsey & Company, which estimates that such vehicles will make up for more than 40 percent of new vehicle sales in China by 2040.

The country has also been the world's largest NEV market for nine consecutive years. In April, the production of NEVs reached 870,000 and sales touched 850,000, up 35.9 percent and 33.5 percent year-on-year, respectively, indicating vigorous growth potential in the domestic market, said the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers.

About 40 percent of new vehicles sold in China this year will be NEVs, and they will have smart features that help NEV makers stand out amid increasingly fierce competition, experts forecast.

"The upward spiral is expected to continue, with about 50 percent of new vehicles sold in China being NEVs in 2025. This is expected to hit 70 percent in 2030, with annual deliveries reaching around 20 million units a year," said Ouyang Minggao, an academician at the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Lei Jun, chairman and CEO of Xiaomi, said: "In terms of intelligent electric cars, the issue of electrification has already been addressed over the past decade, and the next decade will be characterized by intelligence. Intelligence will become the decisive factor of this era."

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