Autonomous Vehicles

VW will test robotaxis, mobility services in China as part of new agreements

It will also introduce Seat to The Middle Kingdom in the near future.

It's unclear if VW will bring its Level 4 e-Golfs to China, or if it will use a different vehicle for development and testing.

Volkswagen

China is a massively important market for many automakers, which is why Volkswagen wants to make sure some of its more cutting-edge services don't skip over the country.

Volkswagen on Friday announced that it signed an agreement with the Chinese automaker JAC, with which it's had a joint venture since 2017, regarding future VW efforts in China. Volkswagen will bring its mobility efforts to the country, while at the same time creating a space for VW Group brand Seat to break into the Chinese market.

Based out of the joint venture's R&D facility in Hefei, which is expected to open in 2021, the JV will work on a number of mobility solutions. Part of a larger smart-city agreement with the government of Hefei and Mobility Asia (VW Group China's mobility arm), this will see the introduction of self-driving development vehicles, AV fleet management and other mobility services being deployed in Hefei. Less futuristic schemes, like ride hailing and car sharing, are also on the docket.

Seat's entry in China should happen in the next two or three years, by VW's estimates. Both Seat and JAC will team up to develop a dedicated platform for compact electric cars. As well as Seat gaining a foothold in China, the JV's spinoff Sol brand will also benefit from this new platform.

This is VW's third joint venture in China, in addition to partnerships with SAIC Motor and China FAW Group. Volkswagen has been plenty busy on its own, too. Most recently, the automaker brought its Level 4 self-driving development vehicles to the streets of Hamburg, Germany to act as a "digital testbed" for AV development and smart-infrastructure installations.

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