TAIPEI -- Israeli self-driving sensor startup Mobileye is making inroads into China, the world's largest auto market, by securing contracts with Chinese electric bus and car makers to use its advanced driver-assistance systems, a company executive told the Nikkei Asian Review.
"Mobileye is already working with electric bus manufacturers in China. Yutong, the biggest bus maker in the world, is already using Mobileye. They make 70,000 buses every year, and they've decided to put Mobileye in every electric bus," Mobileye Sales Director David Oberman told the Nikkei Asian Review in an exclusive interview on Aug. 30.
"Other bus makers have decided to follow in a few months or next year. We will see many bus companies in China using Mobileye for the ADAS in the electric buses. It's a clear trend," Oberman said.
ADAS is seen as a precursor to fully driverless technology.
Oberman said his company is already working with Nio, a Chinese electric car startup bankrolled by Tencent and Baidu, and will announce another China-based electric car maker as a new partner soon.
The Mobileye executive's comments came at a time when its main rival Nvidia is also working relentlessly to grow its sphere of influence in China's driverless technology market.
In July, Nvidia announced that it is partnering with Baidu to accelerate the development of artificial intelligence, including autonomous driving technology.
According to research firm IHS Markit, global ADAS system sales will surpass 302 million units annually in 2022.
Research firm Strategy Analytics said in a recent report commissioned by Intel that nearly 50% of all cars sold in 2050 will be fully autonomous. By then the so-called "passenger economy," based on pilotless vehicles, is likely to become a $7 trillion market, the firm said.
To gain a technological edge in this emerging market, Intel announced it would acquire Mobile for $15 billion in March. The deal was closed in early August.
Intel and Mobileye are now planning to roll out a fleet of 100 test cars for fully autonomous driving in the U.S., Israel and Europe, with the first vehicles coming out later this year.
The Intel-Mobileye self-driving platform now boasts BMW, Delphi, Fiat Chrysler and Continental as its partners.