Caocao, Zhejiang Geely Holding Group’s ride-hailing subsidiary, said on Aug 19 it has begun testing autonomous vehicles, and users are expected to be able to hail self-driving vehicles in 2021.
In a statement via its WeChat account, the company said it is conducting tests in China Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, where it has received licenses for autonomous driving tests.
The tests are conducted in collaboration with Deeproute.ai, a Chinese company that works on Level 4 autonomous driving solutions.
Caocao said the number of testing vehicles will grow to around 10 in the second half of the year, and to several hundred by 2022. The fleet is expected to offer service in downtown Hangzhou during the 2022 Asian Games, which will be held in the city.
Caocao is one of several companies starting to put their weight behind autonomous driving services. In late June, China’s ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing launched a test robotaxi service in a Shanghai suburb.
In the test, customers within a designated area will be able to book free on-demand rides using Didi’s autonomous vehicles.
Didi CEO Cheng Wei said the company expected greater use of artificial intelligence to revolutionize safety and efficiency in the urban transit system.
However, it would take at least a decade of continued investment before autonomous vehicle technology passed critical technology, business and regulatory milestones, he said in a statement.
A car body is painted automatically at a Geely plant in Zhejiang province, which close to Hangzhou.
Geely reported revenue of 36.82 billion yuan ($5.3 billion) and net profit of 2.32 billion yuan for the first half of this year on Aug 17, down 23 percent and 43 percent respectively year-on-year because of the impact of the novel coronavirus.
Chinese automaker’s market share increased from 6.51 percent at the beginning of this year to 6.74 percent currently.
The carmaker saw its businesses steadily recover from April in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic with 20 percent and 21 percent growth in sales for May and June respectively.
In the first six months, Geely sold 530,446 vehicles, down 19 percent year-on-year. However, its sales ranked first among Chinese brands.
Since hitting the market in 2016, sales for Geely’s Lynk & Co brand have exceeded 300,000. Its 01 plug-in hybrid model has been mooted for launch in Europe in the second half of the year.
The carmaker has recently launched three new models — the Icon, the Lynk & Co 05 and the Hao Yue, and is expected to launch the Lynk & Co 06, the Geometry C and the Preface in the second half of this year.
Geely exported 19,573 vehicles in the first half of this year.