China on March 1 issued the country’s first three road test licenses to smart car makers, meaning that Chinese autopilot vehicles can get out of enclosed fields and hit the real roads for tests.
Shanghai-based SAIC Motor received two of the licenses and the electric vehicle startup Nio obtained the other one.
The licenses allow the operators to use a 5.6-km public road in Jiading District of Shanghai for testing smart cars.
Shanghai also issued a regulation on road tests of smart cars on the same day, requiring vehicles to test in both autonomous and manual modes. In addition, the vehicles must be able to switch to manual mode under every circumstance.
Shanghai has secured progress in building National Intelligent Connected Vehicle (Shanghai) Pilot Zone in Jiading, also China’s first demonstration area for intelligent and connected cars.
Last year, the enclosed testing field of the demonstration area witnessed over 300 field tests, 500 exchanging visits, racings and other activities related to intelligent and connected vehicles.
China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology said in June, 2017 that intelligent and connected vehicles will be a vital field for future automobile industry, and the sector will foster new opportunities for the country’s car industry to advance.
In the same month, an industry innovation alliance for the intelligent and connected vehicles was established in Beijing to back China’s automobile industry.
It is estimated that the market size of China’s intelligent and connected vehicles, which stood at $58.4 billion in 2017, will reach $109.7 billion in 2020 with a compound growth of 23 percent.
Beijing announced in January that the first public road to test autonomous driving would be built in the city’s Yizhuang economic development area.
China’s National Development and Reform Commission also released a draft plan of smart vehicle development for public review in the same month. The strategy encouraged the in-depth integration between automobile and other industries, in a bid to propel the development of intelligent vehicles under Chinese standards.
The draft plan made clear that China aims to make intelligent car production account for half of the country’s total new vehicles by 2020, and will become a global leader in the intellligent vehicle industry by 2035.
By Zhang Huizhong