Chinese ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing, currently subject to a cybersecurity investigation, is quietly pushing ahead with a plan to make its own vehicles by expanding the team, according to people familiar with the matter. The Beijing-based company, which has been under investigation by the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) since mid-July, has opened over 100 vacancies for the unit since the end of last month, ranging from design, engineering, to procurement and logistics, according to its official careers site. This marks an expansion from the current 600 employees at the unit, said a person familiar with the matter, who declined to be named as he is not authorised to speak to the media. Separately, Didi is looking for six autonomous driving engineers that will help to develop power, computing and sensor systems. It has also been looking for an accountant for its car-making operations since July 28, according to its website. All of the new job posts emerged after Chinese authorities launched their probe into Didi. Didi did not immediately reply to a request for comment. China issues tighter data security rules for ride-hailing firms Didi’s shares have almost halved from their June initial offering price in New York as of Tuesday. The South China Morning Post reported last week that rectifications urged by the authorities have slowed internal operations and pushed many teams to lower their performance targets for the current year. Beijing is also working to impose a ceiling on how much ride-hailing platforms like Didi can take from fares, forcing them to set a minimum for drivers. As such, the long-term profit outlook for the industry will likely hinge on how these platforms can reduce their reliance on human drivers. Didi has 13 million drivers serving 493 million users. However, it remains a difficult and expensive process to develop autonomous vehicles and it could be years, if not decades, before driverless taxis replace manned ones. Didi’s car-making project, called “Da Vinci” in Chinese, is led by vice-president Yang Jun, who is also chief product officer for D1, the first electric vehicle the company launched last year with carmaker BYD, customised for its ride-sharing business. Didi freezes Europe, UK expansion for a year amid data and cybersecurity concerns Didi has also published more than 50 job posts for self-driving engineers and product managers since late July. This is for a separate unit named “Voyager” dedicated to self-driving technologies. Didi’s car plans can be traced back to 2016 when it created an autonomous driving unit, a year after rival Uber announced a target for achieving autonomy. The unit was upgraded to an independent company in 2019 and it is developing Level 4 autonomous driving technologies with a team of over 250 engineers, according to the company’s prospectus. “Didi’s plan to make cars is to serve its ride-sharing businesses,” said Chen Liteng, an analyst with consulting firm 100ec.cn. “The company is going to redesign the layout of the vehicles to meet the specific needs for riders based on various travel scenarios and big data.” The company said previously that it plans to operate more than 1 million robotaxis in areas where there is a shortage of ride-hailing cars through its platform by 2030, as tech companies in China invest billions in the autonomous driving sector to compete with carmakers such as Tesla Inc. Xiaomi, the world’s No. 2 phone maker, announced its foray into smart cars in April and said the first vehicle it produces will be either a sedan or an SUV, with other tech giants including search engine company Baidu and Huawei Technologies Co also developing driverless systems.