When China says jump the automakers of the world jump.
Bloomberg is reporting that China wants 10 percent of new cars to be fully self-driving by 2030. The ambitious goal was set by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT), which recently announced a new road map for the country's auto industry. The road map covers a wide variety of areas, including connectivity, the use of lighter materials and power via alternative energy sources. The end goal is to modernize the country's auto industry so that its domestic offerings don't get left behind on the world stage.
The first goal is to equip 50% of new cars with computer-assisted driving aids that mitigate or help avoid crashes by the end of the decade. The second is to have 10% to 20 percent of new cars be highly autonomous by 2025. The Chinese auto industry produces a lot of cars which makes us think that these goals may be a bit ambitious (read: too expensive to hit). That being said, the country's domestic automakers are closely tied to the state in terms of funding, so these goals are more or less marching orders. Foreign automakers don't have to worry about this, but it sounds like they'll need to play ball if they want to keep selling cars in China. That could motivate them to speed things up when it comes to the development of fully self-driving cars.
This in turn could help bring fully self-driving cars to the US market quicker. If, for example, GM wants to launch a fully autonomous Buick in China then it only makes sense to use the tech it develops for use in models back home as well. Foreign automakers have a head start when it comes to meeting these new safety and self-driving standards, but that doesn't mean they should sleep on the Chinese competition. China's LeEco has raised a billion dollars to help get its self-driving car off the ground. The fact that China itself is backing many of these companies financially means that the gap could close considerably sooner rather than later.