Shenzhen: With China competing fiercely with the US for leadership in autonomous driving, its southern coastal city of Shenzhen has now joined Beijing and Shanghai in permitting road tests for self-driving cars.
Internet giant Tencent Holdings on Monday became the first company to receive the Shenzhen licence to conduct open-road tests for its autonomous cars, the South China Morning Post reported on Tuesday.
The move came only a month after China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) released new guidelines which gave local authorities a freer hand to arrange road tests for self-driving vehicles.
The tests are expected to move forward Tencent's self-driving car initiative from the technical stage into the application stage, Su Kuifeng, director of the firm's autonomous driving laboratory, was quoted as saying.
On the home turf, Tencent joins rival internet giants Alibaba Group Holding and Baidu in the autonomous car industry.
Beijing became the country's first city to permit autonomous cars to do open-road tests about five months ago.
In March, Shanghai issued licenses for self-driving cars to electric car start-up NIO as well as the state-owned automotive design and manufacturing company SAIC Motor, the Post said.
According to a McKinsey report released last month, China is likely to emerge as the world's largest market for autonomous vehicles and mobility services, worth more than $500 billion by 2030.
Chinese autonomous driving players are also rushing to the US cities for road trials of their vehicles.
Drive-sharing company Didi Chuxing Technology Co. recently got approval from California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to test its self-driving vehicles.
A new list posted on DMV's website showed 53 pieces of Autonomous Vehicle Testing Permits (with a driver) had been permitted as of last Thursday, Xinhua reported on Monday.
Besides Didi, many Chinese companies including Baidu, Faraday & Future, Changan Automobile, have started its test in the state, the report said.