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China to lead global autonomous vehicle market valued at $1 trillion

A UK-based financial services firm has claimed that China has stolen a march on other countries, and will lead the global autonomous vehicle market, which is expected to be worth around $1 trillion by 2040. IHS MARKIT has suggested that China will spearhead the self-driving revolution and said that the country had already embarked upon a number of initiatives aimed at establishing itself as the major player in the emerging industry.

The UK financial analytics firm projected that revenue in the autonomous vehicle sector would reach $1 trillion by 2040 and suggested that huge investments made by China in the smart cities industry have already placed it well ahead of its nearest rivals the US. However, head of crude oil market at IHS conceded that the revolution of AI assisted autonomous vehicles to mass market was still at least five years away.

A number of car manufacturers and technology companies are partnering on collaborations in relation to self-driving in a bid to accelerate the process. However, they face regulatory hurdles and other issues such as government support, consumer trust and investment, although a leading expert at Deloitte Digital has claimed that Chinese consumers are more than ready to embrace the revolutionary technology, and supported by a progressive technologically driven government, the market's growth could happen much faster in China than anywhere else in the world.

China has been robust with regards to its investment in smart city projects which are propelled by AI. Research disclosed that no fewer than 93% of those 290 smart city programs initiated by China were centered on mobility infrastructure. That already represents a much higher figure than nearly every other region of the world.

Cities that are emphasizing a strategic focus on improving mobility, given that driverless cars will be arriving sooner rather than later, could see the subsequent implementation of autonomous vehicles support technologies and software as part of the infrastructure. China's consumers seem ready to accept and adopt AI driven autonomous vehicles with just 27% expressing reservations. However, the same can't be said of US consumers.

A study conducted by Deloitte Digital found that 47% of Americans don't trust AI to drive a vehicle without human intervention capabilities. Chinese consumers are also expectant and believe that self-driving cars will be available to the mainstream in the next five years. A number of Chinese start-up entities have already got the ball rolling in relation to autonomous development. Companies such as Byton, Nio and Geely Automobile have all shown leadership in the space.

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 firm Baidu launched an autonomous vehicle driving fund set at around $1.5 billion back in September.

However, despite all the evidence pointing towards China to lead the way in the autonomous vehicle market, they're not the only country with ambitious targets in the sector. South Korea also intends to launch its own self-driving car revolution, which it claims will commence in 2019. US car manufacturing colossus GM is already making headway in the sector with the announcement that it will introduce 25 of its own electric vehicles with self-driving capabilities by 2023. In addition to this, GM said it wants to unveil its first autonomous vehicle in 2019. China still has the edge, according to IHS research and other analysis, but that could change over the next few years.