China aims to have vehicles with partial self-driving technology account for 50% of all new-auto sales by 2025, double its previous goal, as the country encourages local companies to pull ahead of the U.S. in the field.
Under a plan released Wednesday, new vehicles with "level 2" or "level 3" automation are to make up 70% of sales by 2030. Level 2 assists the driver with steering, acceleration and braking, while level 3 means vehicles drive themselves under certain conditions such as on highways.
Search engine company Baidu has received state support for its Apollo self-driving technology project, launched in 2017. Trials of an autonomous taxi service are underway in Hunan and Hebei provinces and parts of Beijing. Didi Chuxing, China's largest ride-hailing company, is testing a similar service in Shanghai.
Though Tesla and Toyota Motor have led the way among automakers, Chinese players such as Geely Automobile Holdings, part of the group that owns Sweden-based Volvo Cars, are pushing into the fray as well. Nearly 100 new models with level 2 technology reportedly were rolled out in the first nine months of 2020, according to Chinese media.
On the regulatory side, with the commercialization of level 3 vehicles on the horizon, China is considering easing rules as early as next year to allow self-driving vehicles on public roads.