Chinese Billionaire Starts Satellite Venture to Rival Musk’s SpaceX 

(Bloomberg) --

The Chinese owner of Volvo Cars announced it will become the country’s first private company to build satellites as billionaire Li Shufu follows Elon Musk into space.

Li’s Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co. started building a production-and-testing center in Taizhou, Zhejiang province, on Tuesday, it said in a statement. Geely plans to begin the launch of commercial low-orbit satellites by the end of the year, the Hangzhou-based company said.

Li is betting his satellites will give Geely an edge in the burgeoning driverless-car industry and provide more accurate navigation systems that can pinpoint locations by the centimeter, not meters. The move also reflects the growing ambitions of one of the auto industry’s most acquisitive tycoons -- besides Volvo, Geely’s bought Lotus Cars and become the biggest shareholder of Daimler AG.

“Geely must take the initiative to embrace change, develop through innovation, find new synergies online and offline, and cooperate with global partners to become a global technology leader,” Li said in the statement.

Li has been extending his empire beyond cars by diving into new areas. Geely has invested in the VoloCity air taxi to launch it commercially within the next three years, and the company agreed in 2018 with state-owned China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp. to build supersonic trains using homegrown technology.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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