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Tesla’s self-driving bid for China faces rivals racing ahead

If Tesla succeeds in bringing its “Full Self-Driving” system to China, the world’s largest car market, the U.S. electric-car pioneer will be shifting into the fast lane of the global race toward autonomous vehicles.

On a whirlwind trip to Beijing starting Sunday, Musk came to discuss the potential rollout of its FSD driver-assistance system and the possibility of securing government approvals for overseas transfers of data from Tesla (TSLA.O), opens new tab vehicles in China, according to a source with knowledge of the trip.

Those two giants are among at least 10 automakers and suppliers that have unveiled driver-assistance systems over the past two years that can navigate city streets and make turns at intersections.

Others include EV makers Xpeng (9868.HK), opens new tab and Li Auto (2015.HK), opens new tab, and Xiaomi (1810.HK), opens new tab, the smartphone maker that recently introduced its first car, an instant hit.

Any new model priced at more than $30,000 in China now needs advanced driver-assistance features to compete, said Maxwell Zhou, co-founder of DeepRoute.ai, a China-based startup selling software for advanced driver-assistance systems.

“You must have a high-level driving solution to prove you have a smart car, not a stupid car,” Zhou told Reuters.

Xpeng has said it plans to launch a new mass-market brand, Mona, with self-driving features on a car priced below $21,000.

That’s more than $10,000 cheaper than the China price of Tesla’s Model 3.

Many industry experts expect it will take years before fully autonomous cars are commonplace, but predictions vary widely.


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