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NEVS boxes on with driverless InMotion

Lounge room: The NEVS InMotion ride-sharing concept vehicle is designed for flexible transport in crowded urban areas.

Autonomous ride-sharing concept seen as answer to China’s urban traffic woes

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NEVS logo8 Jun 2017

By RON HAMMERTON

THE artist formerly known as Saab – National Electric Vehicle Sweden (NEVS) – has thrown its hat into the driverless vehicle ring, revealing a concept for an automated ride-sharing vehicle that it says could play a part in its vision for city mobility.

The boxy InMotion – similar in concept to the Volkswagen Sedric concept revealed in March – was shown this week at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) Asia in Shanghai alongside a pair of more conventional electric-powered NEVS cars based on the defunct Saab 9-3.

The Chinese-controlled consortium, which bought the assets of bankrupt Saab in 2012 and still maintains its headquarters in Sweden, recently launched a car-sharing and ride-hailing pilot program in its Chinese base of Tianjin, in league with Tianjin Binhai HiTech Industrial Development Area.

The pilot uses born-again 9-3 sedans with electric powertrains and lithium-ion batteries with a 300km driving range. The company has also just launched an electric version of the former Saab 9-3 crossover, the 9-3X.

While these vehicles still require a driver, the company ultimately sees a role for dedicated autonomous vehicles for urban transport, hence the InMotion which is envisaged by NEVS to be a full level five autonomous vehicle – one without driver or driving controls such as a steering wheel or brake pedals.

Instead, the vehicle operates like a lounge on wheels, with flexible seating that can be arranged via a phone app so it can be set up as a mobile office, a place to rest while commuting or go out on the town with a group of friends.

Lighting and temperature can also be adjusted via the app by the occupants who enter and exit on the kerb side via a wide doorway with two wide-opening sliding doors.

The electric-powered vehicle is its vision for shared mobility in places such as Tianjin – an industrial and port city of 15 million people southeast of Beijing – where NEVS has a joint venture factory and is developing an engineering centre.

Microsoft recently came on board as a partner in the project.

NEVS has not confirmed InMotion for production, nor given a date by which it might go into production.

NEVS vice-president of sales and marketing Jonas Hernqvist said the InMotion was designed from the inside out with the intention of delivering a flexible and user-friendly space for urban travellers.

He said the vehicle showed how people could add quality to their lives “by filling the time of travelling with value, and not wasting it by being stuck behind the wheel, sometimes for hours just to get across the downtown areas”.

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