China is reportedly placing a lot of efforts to embed itself as a major player in the ongoing push to grow the self-driving vehicle market and, according to IHS Markit, could be the country that spearheads the whole thing. The analytics group projects that the revenues created by the industry will reach $1 trillion in 2040 and cites China’s huge investments in smart cities as placing it ahead of the global competition. At the same time, Jim Burkhard, head of crude oil markets at IHS says that the real revolution bringing A.I.-assisted autonomous vehicles to the mainstream is still 5 years away. That’s in opposition to the ambitions of some companies throughout the world and comes down to consumer trust, government support, further testing, and technological investments. However, Andrew Dinsdale at Deloitte Digital believes that, in addition to China’s investments as a government, Chinese consumers are more than ready to embrace the technology and that the market’s growth in the region could happen much faster. With conflicting analysis results, it may be too early to conclusively draw a timeline for the widespread use of autonomous vehicles within the country. With that said, technological investment also seems to be there from Chinese startup companies looking to oust the predominant automobile manufacturers within the country and a shift in consumer perception may lend some credence to outlook with regard to where the country stands on autonomous vehicles.
China has currently invested in 290 smart city projects driven by A.I., with no fewer than 93 of those centering around mobility infrastructure.That’s already a much larger number than nearly every other region of the world, if not every other region. Those cities placing particular efforts in mobility, given that driverless cars will be arriving sooner or later, could see implementations of autonomous vehicle support technologies and software as part of the infrastructure. Shanghai has also been utilizing at least one pilot testing zone since mid-2017 and has been testing 200 vehicles there. The country’s consumers also appear more ready to accept and use the technology than in other world regions. Deloitte Digital’s own study showed that while 47-percent of Americans don’t trust A.I. drivers to be safe, while that same figure is only 27-percent among Chinese consumers. 53-percent of Chinese consumers expect that the technology will arrive rapidly over the next few years. Meanwhile, several Chinese start-ups are already making headway, such as Byton, Nio, and Geely Automobile. Byton already operates across three countries as the Future Mobility Corporation but will be introducing a self-driving electric SUV at CES 2018. Geely Automobile, on the other hand, will premiere its efforts at the Shanghai Auto Show, while Nio will also introduce a self-driving sports car in 2018 called the EP9. Moreover, Chinese web services company Baidu launched an autonomous vehicle driving fund set at around $1.5 billion back in September.
With consideration for all of that, China is not the only country aiming to take the lead on the latest technological advancements. South Korea also plans to launch its own self-driving car revolution, beginning in 2019. On the other side of the world, U.S. manufacturer GM is making headway on its own and plans to launch as many as 25 of its own electric vehicles, many with self-driving capabilities, by 2023. The U.S.-based company also wants to unveil its first self-driven vehicle in 2019, with many other companies both in the country and out aiming for similar goals. China still has the edge, according to IHS research and other analysis, but that could change over the next few years.