BEIJING, March 30 (Reuters) - ECARX, an auto tech startup backed by Geely’s chairman and Baidu, plans to supply products with 7 nanometer (nm) chip as early as next year through its joint venture with Arm China, its chief executive told Reuters.
ECARX, which was founded by its CEO Shen Ziyu and Geely Chairman Li Shufu in 2016, is focusing on technologies used in car chips, high-definition maps and smart vehicles.
Shen, a former General Motors Co executive, told Reuters in an interview that ECARX’s joint venture with Arm China, Siengine, will start supplying the new chip products from the end of next year or early 2023. Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co Ltd will manufacture the chips, Shen said.
ECARX customers include brands owned or related to Geely group such as Lotus, Lynk & Co, Polestar, Smart and Volvo. ECARX is also talking with other automakers, Shen said.
Chips with 7nm process technology have relatively higher capabilities of processing for smart car technologies. Other companies working on 7nm or more advanced chips include Qualcomm Inc.
As cars get smarter, chips have become a key component in products from sensors to control units, with internationally established companies including NXP Semiconductors, Renesas and Infineon facing more competition from Chinese rivals.
Siengine’s products will use Arm’s chip design intellectual property and ECARX will make them suitable for smart car software, Shen said.
In the past few months, ECARX raised around $400 million from investors including Baidu Inc and U.S. firm Susquehanna International Group, which also invested in TikTok-owner ByteDance.
Shen said ECARX, which has already supplied 2.5 million vehicles, will make content from different companies such as Alibaba, Baidu, ByteDance and Tencent available to car users.
ECARX is seting up an office in Sweden, plans to expand its partnership in Malaysia and boost its workforce to around 2,000 this year from 1,700.
ECARX has internally discussed about possibilities of initial public offering but has currently no plans, Shen said. ECARX has said its valuation exceeds $2 billion. (Reporting by Yilei Sun and Tony Munroe; Editing by Lincoln Feast.)