BMW first to get license to test autonomous car in China
German car maker BMW is the first foreign car manufacturer to get a license to test autonomous cars in China. Shanghai announced it has given two licenses for an autonomous BMW 7 series to test on public roads.
The Chinese metropolis started issuing licenses in March to state-owned Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation (SAIC), China’s largest car maker that partners with Volkswagen and General Motors, among others, and a local start-up NIO, specialized in electric cars.
Limited test area
Both companies have accumulated 6.000 test kilometres with autonomous vehicles without any incidents since then, according to Shanghai’s authorities. The autonomous car tests aren’t allowed everywhere on the often congested road network of the metropolitan area where 24 million people live. They are limited to a stretch of 5,6 km, according to the Chinese press agency.
China hopes to become the leading country in the world of autonomous cars. Two internet giants, Alibaba (e-commerce) and Baidu (search engine) want to put on the street 100% autonomous vehicles within the next three to five years and are investing heavily.
Baidu for instance is working together on this with automotive supplier Continental. Swedish NEVS, the former Saab, which is owned by a number of Chinese investment companies, is going to build electric taxis for taxi hailing and private car sharing service DiDi, the ‘Chinese Uber’, which is owned by Alibaba.