Automotive LiDARs in China

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ResearchInChina publishes a report on "ADAS and Autonomous Driving Industry Chain Report, 2018-2019– Automotive Lidar." Few interesting quotes, including Velodyne LiDAR wholesale prices going down to $150:

"In the markets where Chinese companies master core technologies, price of products is bound to plummet. Take IPG for example, its 20W fiber lasers were priced at over RMB150,000 per unit in 2010, compared with current quote at RMB8,800 from the peer -- Shenzhen REEKO Information Technology Co., Ltd.. Maxphotonics Co., Ltd. and Shenzhen JPT Opto-electronics Co., Ltd. are another two rivals in the fiber laser price war.

The similar stories echo in the LiDAR market where price competition pricks up in 2019 as Hu Xiaobo, a founder of Maxphotonics Co., Ltd., ventures into the LiDAR field for a new undertaking.

Velodyne’s new factory in San Jose which already becomes operational, can produce as many as 1 million units a year. If acquiring orders for 100,000 units, Velodyne will cut down the price of its VLS 128-channel products to less than $1,000, and that of VLS 32 to roughly $650, let alone $500 for mass-produced 32-channel Velarray solid-state LiDAR and $150 for 8-channel ones.

It is clear that LiDAR price may be 10 times lower than what it is now, and the reduction hinges on how many are demanded.

Comparing with the previous year, Chinese LiDAR vendors have come a long way in factory construction, mass production, shipment, financing and other aspects.

In 2018, Hesai Tech announced to close Series B funding rounds of RMB250 million, with its automotive LiDAR sales only second to Velodyne’s.

RoboSense raised RMB300 million from investors like Cainiao, SAIC and BAIC. Its shipments of 16/32-channel mechanical LiDARs boomed in 2018. The vendor also acquired a MEMS micromirror firm in the year.

Although the automotive market is “wintering”, the financing story in LiDAR industry still goes on.
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