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China’s Didi, GAC Aion to mass produce robotaxis next year

(Reuters) – Chinese ride-hailing giant Didi Global said its self-driving unit’s joint venture with EV maker GAC Aion has received a license to mass produce electric robotaxis in the country, and that it plans to sell the cars from next year.

Andi, the joint venture between DiDi Autonomous Driving and GAC Aion, will roll out a crossover electric sports utility vehicle (SUV) as its inaugural model and will produce the first batch in 2025, the company said in a statement on Sunday.

“The joint venture has positioned us as a pioneer in the autonomous driving industry, enabling us to lead the creation of an early L4 commercial route and the world’s initial closed-loop business model for L4 development that encompasses technology, smart manufacturing and operations,” said Zhang Xiong, deputy general manager of GAC Aion.

The company did not specify which authority issued the license.

The Andi joint venture was set up last year, when it also got funding of about $149 million from two investors affiliated with the municipal government of Guangzhou.

Tesla (NASDAQ:) will unveil its robotaxi in August, CEO Elon Musk said last week after Reuters reported the EV maker dropped plans to make an inexpensive car and instead would develop self-driving robotaxis on the same small-vehicle platform.

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