Self-driving vehicle service provider 7Starlake Co Ltd (喜門史塔雷克) yesterday said it plans to form a joint venture with French-based EasyMile SAS by the end of this year to produce autonomous cars in Taiwan.
EasyMile is a start-up that specializes in autonomous vehicle software and “smart” mobility solutions. The company has commercial projects in Switzerland, Australia and Singapore.
The two firms have been working together to promote electromobility projects since 2015, 7Starlake said.
“We hope to manufacture autonomous cars with more than 50 percent local content over the coming years,” 7Starlake general manager Martin Ting (丁彥允) said at a media gathering in Taipei.
Taking advantage of the nation’s existing supply chains in the car industry, the two companies aim to reduce tariffs and transportation costs, with a goal to build prototypes next year and begin mass production of Taiwan-made autonomous cars in 2019, 7Starlake said.
Ting said 7Starlake is seeking potential business partners that make batteries, automotive components or motors in Taichung and Changhua, which are Taiwan’s key production hub for global automakers.
In the mid-term, the company plans to deploy driverless shuttles in Taiwan, achieving autonomous public transportation through collaboration with local governments, such as Changhua County.
This year, 7Starlake has conducted trial runs of its driverless car service in Kaohsiung and Taipei.
The Changhua County Government said it would introduce EZ-10 vehicles, which are capable of transporting up to 12 people and have a maximum speed of 40km per hour.
The county plans to launch its autonomous shuttle project in two phases.
The first phase would provide shuttle service between Taiwan High Speed Rail Corp’s (THSRC, 台灣高鐵) Changhua Station and Hsinchu Park, while the second phase would connect the Changhua Station and Taiwan Railway Administration’s Tianjhong Station, Changhua County Commissioner Wei Ming-ku (魏明谷) said.
The whole project is scheduled to be completed in 2020 at a cost of nearly NT$1.83 billion (US$60.54 million), Wei said.
Changhwa County plans to lay down exclusive lanes for self-driving vehicles, he said, adding that the county also plans to develop a vehicle-to-grid system that can turn electric vehicles into energy storage equipment to help buffer the fluctuating electricity in power networks.
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