The Swedish carmaker Volvo has unveiled a prototype for a new Robo-taxi: a driverless, fully electric, futuristic car which could be an important part of Volvo’s future strategy.
Aside from regular city driving, the company says the 360c, as the model has been named, will attempt to tap into a new market: inter-city taxi passengers. There is a growing number of people traveling between cities using trains, taxis, or even planes, and Volvo wants to compete with them.
But this car was also designed with a specific partner in mind: Uber. Volvo previously signed a framework agreement with Uber, the ride-sharing company, to sell tens of thousands of autonomous driving compatible base vehicles between 2019 and 2021.
“The automotive industry is being disrupted by technology and Volvo Cars chooses to be an active part of that disruption,” said Håkan Samuelsson, president and chief executive, at the time. “Our aim is to be the supplier of choice for AD ride-sharing service providers globally. Today’s agreement with Uber is a primary example of that strategic direction.”
Volvo engineers have worked with Uber in the past, and Samuelsson said that Volvo aims to shift its scope from being purely a car company to being a direct consumer-services provider,
Speaking to the press at the launch of the new car, Samuelsson reiterated the company’s commitment to this approach.
“This is a product where we see interest from ride-hailing businesses,” Samuelsson said.
Self-driving cars have captured the world’s imagination and it seems like it’s only a matter of time before they start becoming common-place, but for now, test programs have been hampered by a string of fatal accidents. Several automakers are carrying out intensive tests, and a few have also included robo-taxis in their planned future line-ups. However, Volvo Cars is the first prominent global brand to set a target for deliveries.
Volvo aims to have driverless vehicles make up one-third of its deliveries by the middle of the next decade — a most ambitious target, and one which they hope to achieve also thanks to cars like the lovely 360c.