Is China Getting Full Self-Driving Cars? Tesla Seeking Final Go Ahead From Government

Tesla TSLA was approved last month to deploy Full Self-Driving (FSD) cars in the Chinese market under "certain conditions." This came after Tesla chief Elon Musk met with Premier Li Qiang to discuss the possibility. These "certain conditions" include beginning the rollout with employee vehicles and proving their efficacy and safety before expanding. 

The official launch of the program is contingent on approval from the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology. News broke today that Tesla has begun the process of registering with the Ministry.

What Does It Mean For Telsa?

Once approved, the move will help bolster the electronic vehicle (EV) maker's sales in the country and will  "pressure other EV startups to accelerate their research and development," as the managing director of Automotive Foresight, Yale Zhang, pointed out.

After the initial rollout with employees, FSDs will be available to Chinese customers through a software update. Tesla will offer the update for a one-time purchase of 64,000 yuan, about $8,828, and is considering the possibility of a monthly subscription.

This will open an important additional revenue source for the company, which reported a 7.6% year-over-year sales volume drop last quarter.

Having the latest version of Tesla's FSD software on the road will also allow the company to collect more critical data to drive the development of true FSD. Version 12, the latest FSD software, still requires a driver with hands on the wheel who is paying attention, and ready to act if need be.

Are RoboTaxis Still To Come?

The ultimate goal for Tesla is a global "robotaxi" service – an AI-driven end-to-end neural network that will allow for an uber-like experience sans drivers. Once this comes to fruition, in Musk's view, why buy a car?

The company says it will unveil more details about its robotaxi program in August.

Max View

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Featured Photo by Ling Tang on Unsplash.

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