China Plays Critical Role in GM’s Intelligent Vehicle Development

Maker plans to leverage expertise to produce smart cars.

by on Oct.20, 2014

General Motors is planning to further develop its autonomous vehicle technology in China, in particular its ENVI-style vehicles.

General Motors plans to bring its latest technology to China and use its technical resources in there to develop vehicles that can fit into the country’s growing megacities that continue to expand, GM top executive in China said this week.

“China has indeed has been a very rewarding market for GM we’ve benefited from the tremendous growth,” noted Matt Tsien, president of GM China. China plays very big role in GM strategic considerations and China’s voice is a very strong voice within GM, Tsien added during a discussion at the annual Global Automotive Forum in Wuhan, China.

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China became the world’s largest single automotive market in 2009 and the size of country’s car fleet has doubled in the last five years and is expected to double again by 2020.

“If you deliver the best products if you listen to the customers and meet their needs and come up with a compelling value, you can do very well in China, Tsien added.

Tsien said China is also becoming one of the most competitive markets in the world if not the most competitive market in the world. China also faces some major challenges such as pollution and congestion.

“We must help create viable solutions that make the transportation experience safer and cleaner, he added.

Finding new transportation solution is a huge opportunity,” Tsien added. The majority of customer in the future next will demand alternative forms of transportation that can mitigate problems, developing in megacities in China and elsewhere in the world.

Vehicles today are already more intelligent than ever before and come with short and long-term radars, cameras and connectivity.

GM has announced this week that it will bring 4GLE to China next year, which will turn vehicles sold by the Cadillac into mobile hotspots and give them the level of connectivity to the internet and serve as a platform for more service and performance.

The automaker also will bring the new Super Cruise system that equips the car with the ability to guide itself through heavy traffic. “We want to make the driving experience safer and more enjoyable,” he said.

(Embattled GM Chief Counsel Millikin retires early. For more, Click Here.)

GM recently showed off the ENVI 2.0 vehicle at an Intelligent Transportation Systems conference in Detroit. The car was actually developed in Shanghai and embodies the vision of petroleum-free and accident free vehicle that can fit into a crowded megacity.

(Click Here for details about Honda underreporting deaths.)

The ENVI 2.0 is concept car, Tsien said, but many of the ideas it embodies will be incorporated in the vehicles GM builds in China.

ENVI 1.0 was developed in the midst the financial crisis of 2008 and 2009 when GM was forced to file for bankruptcy. At the same time, GM was under heavy pressure from one of its principal partners in China, the Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp. to come up with ideas that could be showcased at the Shanghai Expo 2010, the world’s fair put on by Shanghai city government, the owner of SAIC.

(To see more about Audi’s plans to track test an autonomous race car, Click Here.)

Larry Burns, who was then GM vice president of research and development, said later GM even though it was broke was in no position to say no to Chinese partner. Burns and his team developed a vehicle that seemed completely futuristic at the time. In the last half decade, however, some of the concepts embodied in ENVI 1.0 such as automated driving and widespread car sharing have come closer to reality.

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