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OEM Autonomous Driving Research: Successive Launch of L2 Models on Market, Foreign Plan for Mass Production of L4 Models Earlier Than China
I. L2/L2+ models are successively available on the market
Over years of rapid growth, mainstream OEMs have spawned L2 ADAS systems and upgraded related functions, equipping their vehicles with core capabilities e.g., ACC, lane keeping assist (LKA)/lane centering assist (LCA), active steering (under driver’s confirmation) and traffic sign recognition, at all speeds. Deep fusion of these capabilities is of the essence for mass production.
In China, installation rate of L2 ADAS was 10.6% in the first four months of 2020, 5.4 percentage points higher than in 2019. China has achieved initial success in development of ADAS/AD technology. Foreign brands like Volvo and Toyota, and new homegrown brands such as Lynk & Co, WEY, Geometry and EXEED stay ahead in installation.
II. L3 is expecting policy incentives
L3 automated driving is challenged as concerns technology and regulations. OEMs have mixed attitudes towards it:
South Korea has been the first one to release L3 standards: Hyundai is expected to make headway in market;
Europe and the US have yet to loosen their policies: Audi slows its pace of commercializing L3;
China’s policy still remains unclear but OEMs calls for it: GAC and Changan Automobile already gear up for mass production; Geely and Chery will follow up at any time.
The released L3 solutions integrated with LiDAR and HD map, allow for hands-off steering wheel in the scenarios of highways and city fast roads but require good road conditions, e.g., physical road dividing lines and clear lane lines.
III. Foreign plan for mass-production of L4 models is earlier than China
European and American OEMs stay ahead of others in L4 development; Mercedes-Benz and GM have carried out L4 pilot projects; BWM, VW and Audi have unveiled implementation plans in details;
Korean and Japanese OEMs begin to seek external collaborations for faster launch of L4. Examples include Hyundai’s cooperation with Pony.ai and Honda’s partnership with GM Cruise. Toyota originally planned to roll out L4 at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games but the COVID-19 pandemic makes the plan uncertain;
Chinese OEMs see L4 as a long-term plan. Only few of them, like Changan Automobile and FAW Hongqi are attempting at L4 tests.
In late June 2020, Volvo and Waymo announced that Waymo becomes “the exclusive global L4 partner for Volvo”. Volvo will leverage Waymo autonomous driving technology to build electric robotaxi and equip its two sub-brands Polestar and Lynk & Co. With the help of Waymo, Volvo is hopeful to be one of the first-movers in L4 camp.
In 2020, autonomous driving bellwethers secure enormous investments and leading automakers seize more of the market. Third or fourth-tier auto manufacturers go bankrupt at a faster pace. The ultrahigh technical barriers of autonomous driving encourage the survival of the fittest among OEMS.