Sep 28, 2019

U.S.-China trade tensions could slow AVs

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

A proposed U.S. crackdown on sharing technology with China could threaten the development of self-driving vehicles, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Why it matters: Many companies developing autonomous driving systems split their work between the U.S. and China, with offices, investors, engineers and customers in both countries. Unscrambling that egg could be difficult.

  • “Our company would be split in half,” David Liu, CEO of Plus.ai, told WSJ. The American self-driving software developer recently teamed up with Chinese truck maker FAW Group.
  • The U.S.’ proposed controls are “a cloud hanging over every technology company,” he said.

The big picture: China's aspiration to dominate the AV field is heavily dependent on R&D centers in Silicon Valley.

  • Even though some companies don't plan to deploy AVs in the U.S., there's a certain cachet that comes from validating their technology and securing investment in California — the epicenter of AV research.
  • 14 Chinese companies have licenses to test self-driving cars in California, WSJ reports.

What to watch: The Trump administration could use technology controls as a bargaining chip in its ongoing trade confrontation with Beijing, China expert Michael Dunne, CEO of ZoZo Go, tells the paper.

  • “We’re at a crossroads,” Dunne says. “Will it be reciprocal openness or reciprocal protection?”

Go deeper: Why China could be first with self-driving cars

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Didi seeks competitive edge with faster rollout of driverless pickup

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Didi Chuxing, China's colossal ride-sharing company, is rolling out a self-driving pickup service on Chinese streets in the next few weeks — a gamble that could give the company an important edge in the global market.

Why it matters: The first company to put large numbers of self-driving cars on the road stands to gain two important advantages: reduced operating costs and real-world driving data for its algorithms, which will improve its autonomous driving systems.

Go deeperArrowOct 18, 2019

Chinese consumers shun American products

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

American brands are facing challenges in the Chinese market, as trade and geopolitical disputes wage on for the two countries, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Why it matters: Western executives had long-established plans to dominate the Chinese market, but global consumer brands now have a smaller market share in China than at any other time since the last financial crisis, per WSJ.

Go deeperArrowOct 12, 2019

China's vise grip on corporate America

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The NBA’s swift apology to Chinese fans for a single tweet in support of Hong Kong protestors is part of a troubling trend: The Communist Party in Beijing is setting boundaries for what Americans more than 7,000 miles away are willing to say on sensitive issues.

Why it matters: This isn't a covert operation. It's China using its market power to bully American companies and organizations in broad daylight — and muzzle free speech.

Go deeperArrowOct 8, 2019