Beijing Auto Show Vehicle Hints at New Waymo Self-DrivingTaxi

The Zeekr MIX is described as “an intelligent living room on wheels"

Graham Hope

April 29, 2024

3 Min Read
The Zeekr MIX, a stylish people carrier that is the first car to be built on owner Geely’s new SEA-M platform.

At the Beijing Auto Show, a newly unveiled car provides the biggest clue yet as to what to expect from Waymo’s forthcoming purpose-built self-driving taxi.

The model in question is the Zeekr MIX, a stylish people carrier that is the first car to be built on owner Geely’s new SEA-M platform, which the Waymo robotaxi will also utilize.

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One Chinese outlet has gone as far as describing the MIX as “the private buyer’s version of the Waymo” and there is no doubt the pair have a huge amount in common.

The MIX is based on the M-Vision concept that previewed the SEA-M architecture and was first seen in November 2022, at exactly the same time Waymo was showcasing a concept of its own robotaxi version of the M-Vision at an event in Los Angeles.

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Now, nearly 18 months down the line, Geely’s first production car based on SEA-M has been officially revealed, while early versions of what we can assume is a near-production version of the Waymo have been spotted in the U.S.

So, what can be gleaned from the MIX?

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As you might expect from a vehicle that is based on architecture specifically designed to accommodate autonomous vehicles, vans and MPVs, the focus is on space, comfort and safety rather than performance, with Zeekr describing the MIX as “an intelligent living room on wheels.”

Related:Waymo Unveils New Robotaxi

Measuring 15 feet in length, it is around 2 inches shorter than a Tesla Model Y and occupies broadly the same footprint as a BMW 3 Series, but a lengthy wheelbase of almost 10 feet means there is plenty of room for occupants inside – which is exactly what the Waymo cab will require.

According to Zeekr, there is also a very tight turning circle of less than ten meters, which again will be an asset for the Waymo version, which will operate mainly in congested urban streets.

Sliding doors (one on one side, and two on the other) make access easy, and different seating configurations will be available, with the MIX able to accommodate up to six people.

A flat floor, meanwhile, enhances comfort and infotainment screens will be available for the driver and passenger.

The architecture also facilitates a steer-by-wire system, which allows for variable steering ratios plus the ability to decouple the steering wheel for autonomous driving – which is what we will presumably see on the Waymo vehicle when it is finally revealed.

Zeekr has yet to confirm the power output, but it’s believed the MIX comes with a single motor that delivers 310 kW (the equivalent of 415 bhp).

The Chinese brand is ready to make a big push into Europe this year, with sales earmarked for the Netherlands, Germany, France, Norway, Denmark, and Sweden, although the MIX is unlikely to be offered immediately.

A disguised version of the Waymo self-driving taxi was spied on a trailer in San Francisco earlier this week, but it is not yet clear when it will be unveiled.

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About the Author(s)

Graham Hope

Graham Hope has worked in automotive journalism in the U.K. for 26 years, including spells as editor of leading consumer news website and weekly Auto Express and respected buying guide CarBuyer.

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