Tech startup ECARX to launch new auto chip with Arm China

By Ashika Rajan, Trainee Reporter
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ECARX, an auto tech startup backed by Geely’s chairman and Chinese company Baidu expects to supply products with 7 nanometers (nm) chips as early as next year via its joint venture with chip designer Arm China.

ECARX, which was founded by its CEO Mr. Shen Ziyu and Mr. Li Shufu, the Chairman of Chinese automaker Geely, is focused on car chips, high-definition maps, and smart vehicles. Mr. Shen, a former General Motors Co-Executive said that ECARX’s joint venture with Arm China, Siengine, will begin supplying the latest chip products by the end of next year or early in 2023. The chips will be made by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co Ltd.

ECARX customers include Lotus, Lynk & Co, Polestar, Smart, and Volvo, all of which are owned or related to the Geely company. Other automakers are also in discussions with ECARX. Smart car technologies need chips with a 7nm process technology because they have a higher processing capability.

US-based Qualcomm Inc. is another company operating on 7nm or more advanced chips. Chips have become a key component in products ranging from sensors to control units as cars become smarter, with internationally known companies such as NXP Semiconductors, Renesas, and Infineon facing intensified competition from Chinese competitors.

Arm’s chip design intellectual property will be used in Siengine’s products and ECARX will make them compatible with smart car applications. The company has raised around $400 million in the last few months from investors such as Baidu Inc and US firm Susquehanna International Group, which also invested in TikTok owner ByteDance.

Mr. Shen stated that ECARX, which has already delivered 2.5 million cars, would make content from Alibaba, Baidu, ByteDance, and Tencent accessible to car users. ECARX expects to open an office in Sweden, extend its partnership in Malaysia, and enhance its workforce to about 2,000 people this year, up from 1,700 last year.

The company has explored the idea of an initial public offering internally, although no plans have been made at this time. According to ECARX, the company is worth more than $2 billion.

Related: Volvo, ECARX are teaming up to develop smart car software systems