Chinese ride-hailing giant Didi will unveil its car-building project in this year, Chinese media CyberCar reported, citing people familiar with the matter.
The project, nicknamed "Da Vinci," is set to launch its first model, an electric car for the consumer market priced at around 150,000 yuan, in June next year, said the report.
The car-making team currently has over 1,700 employees, said the report, adding that in order to get a permission for the car-making, Didi plans to acquire Guoji Zhijun Automotive (国机智骏), an automotive manufacturer located in Ganzhou, Jiangxi province.
Founded in 2017, the automaker is a subsidiary of state-owned China National Machinery Industry Corporation, better known as Sinomach.
Prior to this, Didi has partnered with China's largest automaker, BYD, to launch the electric vehicle (EV) model D1 for ride-hailing use in the second half of 2020. More than 10,000 units of D1 have been sold in 2021, according to data from Chejiahao.
Though the collaboration is still ongoing as the two parties are working on the D1 Light, a new EV model for Didi's cheaper ride-hailing service for younger customers, Huaxiaozhu, Didi is dissatisfied since BYD has barred it from getting access to key data from hardware and operating system. Therefore, the company decided to start the car-building project for consumer market under its control.
In its prospectus to SEC, the company said that electric mobility, together with shared mobility, auto solutions, and autonomous driving, are the next key components of its vision.
Citing data from CIC, the company said it have built the largest EV charging network in China, with over 30% market share of total public charging volume in the first quarter of 2021.