WM Motor Founder Freeman Shen: No Fees for Autonomous Driving Yet

Freeman Shen, the founder, chairman and CEO of Shanghai-based electric vehicle firm WM Motor, responded on Monday afternoon to the question of “whether to charge fees for autonomous driving” on social media, saying that his view was to refrain for the time being.

Shen said that the current technical level of autonomous driving didn’t call for the collection of surcharges. Although the fees model has been widely suggested, today’s users don’t have much willingness to pay the bill. Assisted driving is a standard configuration, and high-speed pilot can only be used at highways during holidays. There is no space for additional charges, Shen expressed.

He added, “On the whole, autonomous driving is still in the early stages of popularization, and it is not conducive to popularization to charge users too early. Considering the current consumer background, it is more important to provide it free of charge and increase consumers’ confidence than to earn profits from consumption.”

Autonomous driving classifications proposed by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE International) are divided into six levels spanning from L0 to L5, with L0 indicating “No Automation” and L5 indicating “Full Automation.”

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According to the “Data Tracking Report of China’s Autonomous Driving Car Market” released by the IDC this month, in the first quarter of 2022, the penetration rate of L2 autonomous driving in the passenger car market reached 23.2%. The whole market was characterized as developing from L2 to L3.

The report also pointed out that 21.4% of L2 autonomous driving passenger cars on the market now realize centralized control of the driving assistance domain through the main control chip, or realize higher centralized control in the whole vehicle. With the increasing market share of new energy vehicles (NEVs) and the deployment of domain-controlled electronic architecture by traditional car companies, the proportion of vehicles with centralized control in the driving assistance domain stands to increase rapidly in the next three years to support higher-level autonomous driving.