BMW has every intention of launching iNext, its first autonomous car, concurrently in China, Europe, and the United States, barring any regulatory resistance.
Speaking at an artificial intelligence and robotics conference in Shenzhen, Maximilian Doemling, the senior manager of the autonomous group, said:
“If you’re expecting autonomous function where you can be on the highway, press the button and the car does everything for you, like lane changing and driving, and you can play with smartphone, and you’re always safe, we had the big announcement with Intel and Mobileye that we will have the iNext in 2021.”
It’s not surprising that BMW is prepared to launch iNext in China in the opening year. The country buys more cars than anywhere else, and in the past ten years people have started moving from General Motors, Toyota, and Volkswagen to more luxury brands, like BMW and Mercedes Benz.
BMW wants in on booming China market
Electric cars are also becoming a lot more popular in China, as residents in large cities see the impacts of pollution everyday and seek to reduce their own. Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk has said in the near future the company may start manufacturing cars in the country, due to the high demand for the Model S and expected demand for the Model 3.
BMW has a 2021 release date for the iNext, though that is only preliminary. While Tesla and Google may boast that self-driving is already safer, it still needs to get through a lot of regulatory hurdles before people can drive without looking at the road.
That said, BMW is positioning itself as a key player in the market, partnering with Intel and Mobileye to build a driverless system. BMW is also part of a consortium of German manufacturers that purchased Here Maps, giving them another resource for its self-driving endeavour.