In 2018, Volkswagen Group (VW) China, JAC and SEAT signed a memorandum of understanding with the joint objective to boost the e-mobility market in China. Introduction of the SEAT brand and its electrified products was set to 2021 as one part of the deal. Another part was the construction start of the JAC VW R&D centre before the end of 2018 .
A couple of weeks ago, VW signed one more actor into the partnership with JAC; the city of Hefei. It’s an important step for both sides, where the Hefei city government plans to transform the city into a smart city, and VW JAC gets the opportunity to offer autonomous mobility services, including autonomous fleet management and robotaxis. The collaboration with a city government means that time spent by VW, JAC and SEAT on developing electric vehicles and R&D centres will now have a “testing arena”.
Working in line with the city transformation goals of the Hefei government, the partnership can test new technologies, business models and products for a connected smart city.
Information about when autonomous VW vehicles will launch in the city of Hefei is currently unavailable.
This sounds like a huge opportunity for VW and JAC. Hefei has a population of about 8 million – a solid user basis for the partnership to evaluate and improve vehicle technologies and strategies by real-life testing. However, it might be even better to open up Hefei as a testing arena for other OEM’s and transportation technology developers as well. That could result in more competition and faster market progress within the mobility ecosystem where new solutions could be demonstrated and spread to other parts of the world.
Written by Hampus Alfredsson, RISE Viktoria.
1. 2019-05-31. Volkswagen will introduce robotaxis in China.