BYD, which is China’s largest electric vehicle seller, believes that fully autonomous driving is “basically impossible” and that the technology behind such driver assistance systems would be better suited to manufacturing.
The quote comes from Li Yunfei, one of BYD’s spokespeople, who told reporters at the 2023 Shanghai Auto Show that self-driving cars are probably a false proposition, as outlined by CNBC, adding that it would be difficult to pinpoint who is at fault in the case of a traffic accident involving a self-driving vehicle.
“We think self-driving tech that’s fully separated from humans is very, very far away, and basically impossible,” Li said in Mandarin, translated by CNBC.
Additionally, the BYD spokesperson said, without mentioning Tesla’s name, that there may be many industries and businesses that invest a lot of money in this technology, “and after investing for many years it will prove it leads nowhere.”
In China, self-driving cars are heavily regulated by the government, in the sense that selling them to the public is forbidden. However, after many debates, some companies have been awarded temporary approvals from local authorities in some suburbs of Beijing, Shanghai, and other cities to operate self-driving taxis.
At the same time, however, some of the biggest names in the automotive industry have been hard at work for many years developing driver assistance systems that at least try to help the driver navigate through certain traffic situations.
At the beginning of 2023, Mercedes-Benz became the first automaker to offer Level 3 driver assistance (albeit limited to 40 miles per hour), while Tesla and its CEO Elon Musk have long touted the benefits of autonomous driving.
Recently, Musk even went as far as implying that Tesla could actually sell cars for zero profit and then make money out of its autonomous software. However, two of Tesla’s biggest selling points – the so-called Autopilot and Full Self-Driving features, which garner a lot of attention from fans and critics alike – are still considered Level 2 driver assistance features.