CHINA: THE WORLD’S BIGGEST MARKET FOR DRIVERLESS CARS IS PUSHING ITS INDUSTRY TO THE LIMIT
Although consumer interest is high, autonomous driving is progressing slowly in China. Newcomers such as Faraday Future or Nio may have great ambitions, but their opportunities remain limited. And volume producers currently have more pressing tasks to take care of. Furthermore, some severe infrastructural hurdles complicate improvements.
February 23, 2017 is not a date that William Li will easily forget. After months of preparation and a few problematic issues in the run-up to the event, his electric-powered Nio EP9 set a new speed record for an autonomous vehicle at the Formula 1 circuit in Austin, Texas. The 1000 KW car recorded a lap time of 2:40:33 minutes and a top speed of 160 mph (260 km/h) – something no other vehicle has achieved before.
Autonomous driving also brings up noteworthy memories for Nick Sampson. In January 2017, during CES in Las Vegas, the Senior Vice President of Product Research & Development at start-up Faraday Future – the self-proclaimed Tesla competitor – unveiled the FF91 as its first production vehicle. Although the luxury liner first shone on the main stage with its flashy driving functions, as the FF91 geared up for a driverless fanfare ending, the electronics played an embarrassing trick on the developers and the autopilot decided to quit.