Chinese startup Neolix has began mass production of its self-driving delivery vehicles and has lined up JD.Com and Huawei Technologies as costumers.
Neolix expects to deliver a thousand of the vehicles, which it says resemble tiny vans, within the first year as it broadens out.
According to Bloomberg the implications of the driverless vans are potentially huge. Billionaire Jack Ma predicts there will be 1 billion deliveries a day in China within a decade and the commercialisation of the technology could provide lessons for autonomous vehicles carrying passengers.
‘Driverless cars will change the world, just like the shift from the carriage to the automobile,’ Neolix founder Yu Enyuan, told Bloomberg. ‘I have been looking for something that is worth fighting with everything I have and what I am doing now is that.’
Yu has been testing more than a hundred of the vehicles in enclosed areas such as Chinese campuses.
The vehicles are priced similar to a regular car – a Neolix van costs about $30,000.
Neolix’s initial production line in the eastern city of Changzhou has an annual capacity of more than 30,000 vehicles, and the company plans to set up factories overseas with partners when sales ramp up, reports Bloomberg.
Neolix is talking to potential customers in countries including Switzerland, Japan and the U.S. and targets annual sales of 100,000 units in five years.