Tesla was the latest to announce the building of its car plant in Shanghai, but self-driving and electric cars are making many inroads in China. Shanghai-based lawyer Mark Schaub gives for Lexology an overview of the latest regulations to facilitate this trend. China seems to be late follow the latests developments, but catching up fast, he says.
The scene seems set for rapid technological developments to revolutionize the automotive industry in a way similar to other products such as mobile phones.
It seems clear that a major trend will be a transition from cars with advanced features to truly smart cars. It is likely that part of this trend will be that smart cars equipped with ADAS will become increasingly popular with the ultimate goal being intelligent automobile technology that allows for fully self-driving cars. This technology will go far beyond computer assisted driving.
China seems to be aware of both the challenge and the opportunity. “Made in China 2025” includes intelligent Internet-connected cars as a key development goal. Further Made in China 2025 specifies that China will master technologies relating to intelligent assisted driving and establish preliminary autonomous R&D systems and support production systems for intelligent Internet-connected cars by 2020. Beyond this China has also announced its intention to master technologies for automatic driving, establish a complete autonomous R&D system, build a supportive production system and encourage industrial clusters of intelligent Internet-connected cars. All these goals have the overriding ambition of being able to have a fully upgraded, world class Chinese automobile industry by 2025.
Steps have already been taken in this regard, by way of illustration in 2016 the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) commissioned a system proposal for intelligent Internet-connected cars. This draft has become the standard framework system for industrial discussions and will be issued to the public for comment once the industrial discussions have been completed.
Another example of China taking measures is that in July 2016, the National Technical Committee of Auto Standardization (NTCAS) issued the Notice of Conducting Surveys as to the Applicability of Mandatory Vehicle Standards for Intelligent Internet-Connected Cars (2016 NTCAS Notice). Of particular interest is that NTCAS sets in place a review of existing vehicle standards and relevant laws and regulations in China in order to identify how such regulations need to be adjusted so as to avoid restricting the implementation of such new technologies and also to create solutions to enable ADAS and automated driving technologies to be adopted in the marketplace.
Another important measure is the China Automotive Technology and Research Center initiated China-New Car Assessment Program (C-NCAP). This program ensures that active safety measures are incorporated into the assessment system. On January 12, 2017, the official website of C-NCAP issued the draft C-NCAP Administration Rules (2018) for comment. This is another step by China that shows the increased importance placed on active safety, including AEB and will facilitate the development of ADAS in China.
As mentioned above, one issue retarding the growth of ADAS in China is that the automotive refitting market for ADAS is currently conducted on a semi-underground basis due to unclear interpretation and enforcement of regulations.
This issue has not gone unnoticed by the industry which has called for amendments to offending laws and regulations. The Automobile Refitting Committee of the Chamber of Automobile and Motorcycle Auxiliary Products, which is affiliated to All-China Federation of Industry and Commerce, has proposed enacting Administrative Measures for Refitting of Motor Vehicles in 2013 and 2015. These proposals have received responses from MIIT, Ministry of Public Security and other ministries. It is expected that the Chinese automotive refitting industry will be governed by new regulations in the near future – this bringing of the industry out of the semi-underground will promote further sustainable growth in the Chinese automotive refitting industry and this will naturally flow on to the ADAS industry.
The Chinese authorities’ attention to the development of the smart car in China can also be seen in the joint issuing in April 2017 of the Auto Industry Mid and Long Term Planning. This plan was jointly issued by powerful departments such as MIIT, National Development and Reform Commission and Ministry of Science and Technology. The plan stresses that China will strengthen its efforts in the break-through key technologies in respect on intelligent and Internet-connected cars and will also take various measures to foster such developments. These measures include organizing pilot areas, improving testing and assessment systems and updating laws and regulations. In addition, under this initiative, by 2020, the inclusion of DA (Driver Assistance), PA (Partial Automatic Driving) and CA (Conditional Automatic Driving) systems for new cars is slated to exceed 50% and inclusion of Networking Driver Assistance System are expected to reach 10%. The Networking Driving Assistance System will also lead towards the goal of developing intelligent transportation cities. By 2025, the inclusion of DA, PA and CA systems on new cars will reach 80% and 25% of these cars will be considered substantially or fully automatic driving cars.
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