SAIC and Pony.ai to co-develop ground-up level 4 autonomous robotaxis with foldable steering wheel
SAIC AI Lab, a division of SAIC Motor in China, has announced a collaboration with advanced driverless AI developer Pony.ai to design and implement a new fleet of driverless level 4 autonomous robotaxis. The companies kicked off their new project by unveiling a fully autonomous EV concept from which the fleet will be built.
SAIC Motor Corporation Ltd. is a Chinese state-owned automotive company based in Shanghai, and one of the largest automakers in the country. Electrek has previously covered SAIC-owned brands like MG Motor, but the Chinese conglomerate also produces vehicles through joint ventures with companies like Volkswagen and GM.
In the summer of 2021, SAIC promised to have 40 to 60 level 4 autonomous robotaxis operating on the streets of China before year’s end, stating it was embracing AI and that SAIC might as well stand for Shanghai AI Corporation instead of Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation.
Since then, SAIC Motor has spun out its own autonomous-focused division called SAIC AI Lab, which will be the entity spearheading the collaboration with autonomous driving specialist, Pony.ai. A specialist that already has level 4 autonomous robotaxis operating paid rides in the streets of China.
Together, both teams look to combine vehicle manufacturing know-how with AI expertise, to offer a fleet of electric robotaxis designed from the ground up.
SAIC and Pony.ai to mass-produce autonomous robotaxis
The two tech companies shared details of their new autonomous robotaxi venture in a press release, outlining some of the technological specs of the concept EV, as well as goals for mass production.
Unlike other level 4 autonomous robotaxis operating using Pony.ai’s technology, this upcoming fleet will be purpose built-from the ground up rather than being implemented on an existing EV. The current concept being showcased today is based on a SAIC Marvel R model, however.
The companies state they will team up to develop the EV’s chassis, intelligent cockpit, human-machine interface, remote assistance, and other intelligent driving technologies. Both state that the goal of reaching mass production on these purpose-built autonomous EVs is to accelerate widespread commercial adoption of robotaxis services and autonomous driving as a whole throughout China. SAIC AI Lab general manager Dang Xiang elaborated:
Pony.ai is a global leader in autonomous driving. SAIC AI Lab has mature technical strengths in driverless operation, vehicle development, and intelligent cockpit. Its robotaxi project has been affirmed by the market. It is believed that the cooperation between the two companies will accelerate commercialization progress, upgrade mobility services, and advance the establishment of intelligent urban transportation.
The current concept vehicle that made its debut is equipped with 17 integrated automotive-grade sensors to create a 360-degree visual range covering 200 meters, eliminating blind spots around the entire vehicle. All powered by Pony.ai’s latest generation of autonomous technology. The vehicle also features a foldable steering wheel that “provides a human-machine interaction experience that significantly advances automobile autonomy.”
Both SAIC AI Lab and Pony.ai state that they will continue to advance their technology and build out a connected network of autonomous technologies to support the fleet of robotaxis. There is no timeline on when Chinese citizens can expect to hail a ride in this new fleet, for now the teams simply state they will be implemented over time.
Parent company SAIC Motor has previously shared plans to begin mass production of robotaxis in China by 2025. Perhaps with Pony.ai onboard, the auto manufacturer can reach its goal more quickly.
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New Hyundai IONIQ 6 owners will receive two years of free charging from Electrify America
DC fast charging network Electrify America announced its latest complimentary charging program available for EV owners today. Looking ahead, future owners of the upcoming Hyundai IONIQ 6 will receive two years of free 30-minute charging sessions on its network, offering speeds up to 350 kW – perfect for the electric streamliner’s 800V e-GMP platform.
Electrify America operates the largest fast-charging network in North America with businesses in the US and Canada. It currently operates over 800 charging stations, hosting approximately 3,500 chargers, and is investing over $2 billion in EV infrastructure to expand its footprint, consumer education, and charger access.
In addition to its growing footprint of DC fast chargers, Electrify America supports its customers by offering certain opportunities for complimentary charging, like on holidays such as Earth Day, for instance. Furthermore, the network has implemented free charging sessions for new EVs owners with various automakers, including Hyundai with the Kona Electric and IONIQ 5.
Today, EA announced it is expanding its free charging partnership with Hyundai by adding two years of sessions for owners of the upcoming IONIQ 6 streamliner EV.
Hyundai IONIQ 6 will come with two years of free charging
In a press release today, Electrify America detailed its latest complimentary charging program, which will enable Hyundai IONIQ 6 owners to take advantage of two years of unlimited 30-minute sessions from their date of purchase. EA’s current vice president of technology and soon-to-be president and CEO, Rob Barrosa, spoke:
We are excited for a third collaboration with Hyundai to offer customers hyper-fast charging experiences to EV owners. We look forward to helping advance the electric vehicle revolution with leading automakers such as Hyundai and their latest IONIQ 6 model.
IONIQ 6 owners will be some of the few EV drivers that can take advantage of the 350 kW charge speeds certain Electrify America DC fast chargers can provide, thanks to Hyundai Motor Group’s 800V e-GMP platform. Hyundai Motor North America’s vice president of product planning and mobility strategy, Olabisi Boyle, explained:
Our investment in the 800V e-GMP platform that enables DC fast charging aligned with customer research that our customers expect fast charging (10-80% in 18 mins) and high AER (361 miles). Our customer’s experience is further enhanced by our extended partnership with EA that provides complimentary access to the fastest charging network. The best-in-class and ultra-fast charging IONIQ 6 allows our customers to enjoy a fun EV driving experience. The extended partnership with Electrify America continues to provide our customers convenient and complimentary access to the fastest charging, especially on long-distance trips.
In late February, Hyundai shared initial pricing for the IONIQ 6 ahead of its official launch in the US this spring. We will be driving the all-electric streamliner for the first time in Arizona this week, so stay tuned for a full report on that experience.
Aptera secures first fleet order for 101 solar EVs with intentions for 100,000 more in the future
Solar electric vehicle start-up Aptera Motors has announced its first fleet order from SustainabilitySooner, Inc. The initial pre-order is for 101 of Aptera’s 400-mile range solar EVs and is expected to deliver millions in future revenue. However, what may be more exciting is the prospect of future fleet orders as SustainabilitySooner looks to eventually operate a fleet of over 100,000 SEVs.
As one of the few remaining solar EV start-ups left in the world and the closest to reaching scaled vehicle production, Aptera Motors has been pulling out all the stops in recent months to ensure it can deliver its potentially revolutionary technology to its loyal reservation holders.
While debuting its Launch Edition solar EV this past January, Aptera’s cofounders shared that the start-up still required tens of millions in additional funding to officially begin production. A week later, Aptera launched its Accelerator program to raise additional funds from reservation holders willing and able to invest at least $10,000 to secure their spot in the delivery line, prioritized by whoever donates the most.
Last week, we shared news that Aptera had nixed the late March expiry for the Accelerator program, extending it until all 2,000 of the first SEV build slots are spoken for. Aptera shared it intends to use those funds to make necessary production equipment purchases that will be reimbursed through a recently awarded grant from the California Energy Commission to the tune of $21 million.
Today, Aptera Motors is reporting it has the potential for millions in future revenue, thanks to a fleet pre-order from SustainabilitySooner, Inc.
Aptera secures first fleet order with hopes plenty will follow
Aptera Motors shared the details of its first-ever fleet order today, which entails a pre-order for 101 of the start-up’s 400-mile range solar EV. The reservation from SustainabilitySooner is valued at $3.35 million in future revenues and, according to Aptera, represents the first of many more partnerships with companies seeking a sustainable fleet solution.
Aptera may be off and running with a customer like SustainabilitySooner in its Rolodex, as it has already shared intentions to grow the initial fleet of 101 Apterae (learned a new word today) to over 101,000 solar EVs as it continues its expansion across the US. The start-up’s CEO, David Fuller, spoke to the pre-order with Aptera:
SustainabilitySooner.com placed Aptera’s first fleet order because Aptera is building the most climate positive vehicle on the planet. The next mobility revolution must be a climate positive revolution. Our missions fit together like they were made to. In our search for our Climate Positive Mobility Partner, it was easy, in fact effortless, to see Aptera and SustainabilitySooner.com could have a long, mutually productive, even symbiotic relationship.
SustainabilitySooner, Inc. is working to alleviate climate change using what it calls Climaculture – the science and practice of cultivating plants and organisms synchronously with land management to produce clean, sustainable air, water, and energy.
The company states its pre-ordered fleet of Aptera solar EVs will enable it to scout and locate raw land sites without pesky emissions, then will utilize “artificially intelligent robotic solutions” to map, plant, and study native plants and wildlife in those areas. Aptera cofounder and co-CEO Chris Anthony spoke to the start-up’s first fleet order as well:
We’re grateful to establish our very first fleet deal with SustainabilitySooner.com, a change-maker that embraces the solar mobility movement and empowers the community to make the world a better place. It’s great to see a forward-thinking company deploying this technology in such an innovative way.
SustainabilitySooner.com will continue to educate and promote sustainability to its subscribers while giving them the digital tools to track their own shrinking carbon footprints. If and when Aptera begins production of its solar EVs, they will certainly help the start-up on its journey toward curing the world’s climate in addition to providing sustainable, long-range mobility to other fleet operations.
Aptera’s SEVs are still available for pre-order, and hundreds of slots for the Launch Edition remain open. Furthermore, reservation holders can take advantage of a discounted membership to SustainabilitySooner.com with their reservation and can benefit from a 30% discount on their Aptera reservation fee.
US-assembled Genesis electric GV70 is now available in 15 states
Genesis Motor revealed today that the fully electric “Electrified GV70,” assembled in the US at its Alabama facility, is now available to US buyers in 15 states.
After vowing to end new gas-powered models by 2026, Genesis revealed its vision for a 100% zero-emission lineup by the end of the decade.
The South Korean luxury brand, part of the Hyundai Motor Group, began its quest for a cleaner future with the release of the electric GV60 crossover SUV in 2019, its first dedicated EV based on the E-GMP platform (check out our full review here).
Its BEV lineup expanded last year with the arrival of the Electrified G80 executive sedan, an all-electric version of its G80 luxury sedan with 282 miles EPA-estimated range and a starting MSRP of $79,825.
The luxury automaker unveiled its third fully electric model, the Genesis Electrified GV70, which will be the first Genesis model assembled in the US at its Montgomery, Alabama facility last year.
Genesis said the first US-built GV70 Electrified SUV rolled off the production line last month, and now the automaker says the models are arriving at dealerships.
Genesis electric GV70 SUV is now available to US buyers
The company revealed Tuesday the electric GV70 is now available in 15 states, including Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.
Claudia Marquez, chief operating officer at Genesis Motor North America, said the launch of the electric SUV is a “significant moment for the brand ” as it continues to expand its EV lineup in the US.
The 2023 Electrified GV70 rides on the brand’s GV70 platform, featuring the “Beauty of the White Space” interior for a spacious, luxurious-feeling interior.
In addition, the Electrified GV70 features dual 160 kW front and rear electric motors, a 77.4 kWh lithium-ion battery, a 400/800V multi-charging system, and 236 miles range.
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