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Chinese robotaxis set for US market Chinese robotaxis set for US market
In the final days of 2021, Zeekr, the Geely-owned manufacturer announced it had teamed up with Waymo, one of the United States’ largest self-driving... Chinese robotaxis set for US market

In the final days of 2021, Zeekr, the Geely-owned manufacturer announced it had teamed up with Waymo, one of the United States’ largest self-driving tech companies, to create a fleet of driverless ‘robotaxis’.

Zeekr, the year-old electric vehicle (EV) startup, has created a significant disturbance in the industry. According to a recent Waymo blog post, the collaboration’s autonomous vehicles will be built in Sweden, destined for US roads.

Specially designed with autonomous ride-hailing services in mind, the self-driving robotaxi features low, flat floors, a five-door design with sliding doors void of B-pillars, making for a spacious entrance into the cabin.

Once inside, passengers are greeted by an interior conspicuously devoid of a steering wheel, pedals, handbrakes and most all traditional automobile instrumentation. In their place, an iPad-sized monitor for passengers to observe their travel status.

In the back of the futuristic taxi, passengers can enjoy reclining seats and generous headroom, as well as the advantage of avoiding small talk with a human driver.

The blog post outlined the design process of the EV explaining that the robotaxi’s framework will be adapted from Zeekr’s latest EV, the popular 001 models.

Components for the EV’s autonomous functions and the software that run them will be fitted by Waymo once the vehicles are in the US, according to the online media publication, The Verge.

No specs on the robotaxi have been detailed yet as the vehicle is still in its development phase. However, specs on the Zeekr 001 model are available.

The 001 is powered by a CATL, liquid-cooled Z-Battery. Consumers can choose between 86KW, 100KW packages. The larger 100KW option is also available in all-wheel-drive (AWD) and rear-wheel-drive (RWD), while the smaller 86KW package comes standard as an RWD EV.

Ranges for each battery spec are between 327 miles and 443 miles, depending on the vehicle’s specifications. The 001 also is equipped with fast-charging capabilities, reaching an 80% charge in half an hour, according to Inside EVs.

Like most EVs, the 001 is fast in a straight line, reaching 100km/h in 3.8 seconds and climbing to a top speed of 200km/h.

The 001 has enjoyed phenomenal success since it was made available to the Chinese public late last year. According to InsideEVs, the sporty five-door saloon moved 199 units in the final days of October and delivered more than 2000 units in its first month on the showroom floor across China in November.

To accommodate the demand for the 001 model, Zeekr said it plans to ramp up output at its smart factory in Ningbo, China and while interest in the 001 is high, would continue prioritising the local market before launching internationally sometime in 2023.

https://www.theverge.com/2021/12/29/22858144/waymo-geely-partnership-all-electric-self-driving-minivans-zeekr

https://insideevs.com/news/552702/zeekr-001-sales-china-november2021/

https://blog.waymo.com/2021/12/expanding-our-waymo-one-fleet-with.html

https://www.news24.com/wheels/news/industry_news/is-south-africa-ready-for-the-zeekr-001-all-electric-car-from-geely-20211228-3

Janet Bartlet

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