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Nissan Launching Robotaxi Program in China

Working with WeRide, the first phase of testing will run until September

Graham Hope

February 28, 2023

3 Min Read
Nissan

The move follows the establishment of the Nissan Mobility Service Company in November

Nissan is set to offer robotaxi rides to the public in China in early March – the first Japanese company to do so in the country.

The tests will take place in the city of Suzhou in Jiangsu province, which is located to the north of Shanghai in the east of China.

The move follows the establishment of the Nissan Mobility Service Company in November, which is headquartered in Suzhou.

At the time of the announcement of the new company, it was made clear that a rollout of a fleet of self-driving, electric robotaxis in the city was a priority.

To achieve this, Nissan is working in partnership with Guangzhou-based WeRide, and the first phase of testing is expected to run for around six months until September and feature two Nissan Leaf EVs.

This will be followed by an escalation in the program, using five of Nissan’s electric Ariya crossover vehicles.

The robotaxi service will connect a train station in Suzhou with hotels and offices and can be ordered by riders by using an app, as per other ride-hailing services, to specify pick-up points and destinations.

Hideki Kimata, president of the Nissan China Investment Co, which established the new company, explained: “Suzhou High-speed Railway/Xiangcheng District was chosen for Nissan Mobility Service due to its strong support for business development, availability of collaborative opportunities, and its proximity to our existing [Renault and Nissan] Alliance joint innovation hub in Shanghai.”

Related:Baidu, Pony.ai Test Fully Driverless Robotaxis in Beijing

Safety monitors will travel in the vehicles at all times to provide reassurance to passengers and intervene in the event of any unforeseen problems, and as with all robotaxi testing, there will be a focus on accumulating data to help inform and improve the autonomous functionality of the vehicles as the service evolves.

There will be no charge for using the robotaxis.

Although the tests constitute Nissan’s first deployment of robotaxi services in China, partner WeRide – which has benefited from heavy Nissan investment – already has extensive experience in offering autonomous transport across the country.

The Guangzhou-based company operates a self-driving bus in its home city, where it provides commuter transport for employees.

And it made headlines last April when it launched a fleet of 50 autonomous street-cleaning Robosweepers for a pilot in the Nansha district of its home city.

“WeRide always puts safety as our top priority, and will work with Nissan to provide safer, more efficient and comfortable autonomous driving mobility experiences to Suzhou residents, with innovative technologies,” said Li Zhang, COO of WeRide. 
Nissan’s new program is well-timed. Although robotaxi services are more widespread in China than in any other country, to date they have been dominated by domestic companies such as Baidu and Pony.ai.

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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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