Lidar Technology in Chinese EV is Facing Scrutiny in US

U.S. apprehensions regarding Chinese autonomous driving technology have impacted Hesai Technology in China as lobbyists in Washington strive to sever connections with the company.

In late February, the White House announced an investigation into connected cars, aiming to evaluate the national security implications of Chinese advancements in this domain.

The concerns revolve around apprehensions that state-subsidized Chinese vehicles could inundate the U.S. market, potentially accessing substantial volumes of sensitive data through light detection and ranging (lidar) sensors, which possess military applications, according to sources cited by Nikkei Asia.

Lidar technology utilizes pulsed laser light to gauge the distance, speed, and altitude of objects, enabling the mapping of the surrounding environment in 3D. With applications extending to military contexts, lidar-equipped unmanned aerial vehicles could assess post-bombing scenarios with precision, reducing risks to military personnel.

In the commercial sphere, lidar plays a pivotal role in numerous Chinese-connected cars, with Hesai emerging as a leading producer of such sensors after its Nasdaq debut last year.

Perceiving intense lobbying efforts by U.S. lidar companies, Hesai engaged Washington’s top lobbying firms, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld and Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck. However, both firms terminated their contracts with Hesai last month.

The heightened scrutiny from Washington coincides with significant shifts in the lidar market. Historically dominated by U.S. firms, the sector has witnessed significant Chinese advancements, attributed in part to Beijing’s industrial policies.

Presently, Hesai commands 47% of the global lidar market by sales, according to the House Select Committee on Strategic Competition between the U.S. and the Chinese Communist Party.

Despite its market dominance, Hesai faces allegations of intellectual property infringement from U.S. companies Velodyne and Ouster. Additionally, the company found itself on the Pentagon’s list of “Chinese Military Companies” earlier this year, sparking backlash from Hesai, which vehemently denied any military ties and emphasized its focus on civilian applications.

The company’s shares experienced a downturn following the Pentagon listing but have since rebounded to pre-blacklisting levels. While some investors remain cautious amid regulatory uncertainties, others view the U.S. blacklisting as a potential endorsement of Hesai’s technological capabilities, driving investment opportunities in the company.

Josh Alba
Josh Alba
Josh Alba stands at the forefront of contemporary business journalism, his words weaving narratives that illuminate the intricate workings of the corporate world. With a keen eye for detail and a penchant for uncovering the underlying stories behind financial trends, Josh has established himself as a trusted authority in business writing. Drawing from his wealth of experience and relentless pursuit of truth, Josh delivers insights that resonate with readers across industries.
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