GUANGZHOU, China — Chinese autonomous driving start-up WeRide has partnered with major automaker Guangzhou Automobile Group (GAC Group) to launch driverless taxis on the latter’s ride-hailing service Ontime.
The deal highlights the push to commercialize so-called robotaxis in China on a large scale in an industry that has become increasingly competitive.
WeRide makes autonomous driving systems but does not manufacture cars. Instead, it looks to partner with automakers — in this case GAC. Ontime is a ride-hailing app which is partly owned by GAC. The three companies will bring autonomous taxis onto the platform, which users can hail via the app.
The companies plan to offer test rides for the public at the Guangzhou Auto Show on Friday. The robotaxi service will be available to the broader public by 2022, the companies said.
WeRide, which is backed by automaker Nissan and valued at over $3 billion, has been testing an autonomous taxi service since 2019 in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou where it is headquartered.
The company faces intense competition from other upstarts including Pony.ai and AutoX as well as giants like Baidu.
Robin Li, CEO of Baidu, said Wednesday that the company plans to launch its own robotaxi service in 100 cities by 2030.