October 13, 2016
The California Department of Motor Vehicles issued permits to French auto company Valeo North America and the privately held Wheego Electric Cars to test a single autonomous vehicle with up to four operators on public roads. Another company receiving a permit was Cruise Automation, which was then acquired by General Motors for $1 billion. So far, Alphabet’s Google has driven 2 million miles in autonomous vehicles on public roads. Permits are a marker of which companies are moving forward in the new field.
The Wall Street Journal notes that Ford, Uber, Bosch and Delphi Automotive are among seventeen manufacturers already permitted to test autonomous vehicles on public roads. Ford has stated it plans to have the vehicles on the road in five years. According to IHS Markit, “global sales of autonomous vehicles will reach 21 million in 2035.”
TechCrunch reports that Wheego, headed by former EarthLink president Mike McQuary, is “an electric carmaker which got its start taking Chinese-built cars, outfitting them with batteries and electric motors in the U.S. and putting them on the road.”
Valeo SA, the parent company of Valeo North America, is a French-based “multinational car part supplier … which creates everything from powertrains, to lighting and wipers, to driving assistance and connected car components.” Valeo has already tested its autonomous vehicle, Cruise4U, on the Paris Beltway, traveling “a full 24 hours … in one driving session in late September, with 99 percent of that time spent under fully autonomous drive mode, excepting the breaks it took to swap out human test drivers.”