GAC Aion and Didi build autonomous electric cars

GAC Aion, the electric car offshoot of the Chinese GAC Group, has founded a joint venture with ride-hailing company Didi Chuxing for the production of autonomous EVs. The first production model is apparently set to debut next year.

Image: GAC Aion

The company, which is 50 per cent owned by each of the two companies, is called Aidi Technology. The joint venture has already received the required business licence in China. This means that the communicated schedule, according to which the first batch is planned to go into mass production next year, seems realistic, at least on paper.

The first series model will be based on the AEP3.0 electric platform from GAC Aion and utilise Didi technology for level 4 automated driving. Level 4 is also known as fully automated driving. The car still has a steering wheel and pedals, so it can be controlled by humans. However, on certain routes (such as the motorway or in a multi-storey car park), the vehicle can move completely autonomously and can also drive without occupants. As the driver completely relinquishes control of the vehicle in these cases, he or she becomes a passenger (and can sleep or read, for example) and is therefore not liable for traffic offences or damage during the fully automated journey. As liability is transferred, fully automated driving is significantly more complex and must be better safeguarded than highly automated level 3 driving, in which the driver may temporarily turn away from the traffic, but must be able to take over responsibility again at short notice when requested to do so by the system.

GAC Aion and Didi Chuxing joined forces in 2021 to develop a self-driving electric car. This development is now apparently nearing completion: the first model is said to have finalised the product definition and is currently undergoing a design review, according to Chinese media reports. As the vehicle platform itself is known, realisation could then take place relatively quickly.

GAC Aion presented the AEP3.0 in November 2022. This is a 900-volt platform that supports charging capacities of up to 480 kW. To date, GAC Aion has primarily developed powerful electric cars from the Hyper series on this platform.


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