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Volvo plans to test up to 100 self-driving cars in China

China: Swedish automobile giant Volvo plans to launch up to 100 self-driving cars in Beijing, as an experiment to build consumer trust in the self-driving technology. As China is the largest automobile market in the world, the company is aiming at increasing the sales by 10 percent year-on-year in 2016. The autonomous drive experiment will be conducted in limited driving situations such as on express roads and highways in which the local drivers would test autonomous cars on public roads in everyday conditions.

Volvo, wholly owned by China's Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co, is currently looking for a city that could allow this experiment to take place and provide the necessary permissions, regulations and infrastructure. Furthermore, this experiment aims at increasing the awareness about the upcoming technologies such as self-driving cars in China. Volvo’s Chief Executive Hakan Samuelsson said, “I think we need to build up (consumer) trust in the technology. So you have to bring it out and demonstrate it.” He further added, “It has to be a big city where there are lots of consumers, wasting an hour a day in the cars (sitting in traffic). That's I think realistically where this function can be sold commercially.”

The self-driving cars are normal cars fitted with driver assistance systems that would alert the driver when autopilot mode is activated, on freeways or in specific zones, giving the driver the option to steer in such conditions. Driverless cars also have a voice controlled feature with no steering wheel and the riders can drive anywhere under any conditions.

Currently, Volvo, Tesla, Mercedes, Audi and Alphabet Inc.'s Google are also developing self-driving vehicles. Another official of the company said, “What we're doing is giving these cars to people and using real people as our data set, so the information they generate will help us implement the technology.” Volvo aims to sell around 200,000 units in Asia Pacific by 2020, with China accounting for the major share.

According to a recent report published by TechSci Research, “Global Autonomous Car Technology Market Forecast and Opportunities, 2035”, besides engine performance and design, evolution of autonomous features in passenger cars is garnering attention of consumers across the world. Backed by anticipated increase in regulations mandating integration of autonomous technology in new vehicles, decline in prices of autonomous technology and the rising focus on safety on roads, the global autonomous car technology market is expected to witness a CAGR of over 10% through 2035. Furthermore, North America is the largest contributor in the market for autonomous car technology, followed by Europe, Asia-Pacific (APAC) and Middle East North Africa (MENA).

As per TechSci Research, this strategy by the automobile giant would help in increasing the consumer awareness about the new technological advancements in autonomous vehicles, thereby building consumer trust. Moreover, China is the largest automobile market in the world, hence it would aid Volvo to capitalise on the growing demand, consequently leading to an inclination in its market share in Chinese passenger car market. 

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