China’s First Robotaxi Passenger Survey Report

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About WeRide

WeRide is a smart mobility company that creates leading L4 autonomous driving technologies. It is China’s first L4 autonomous driving technology start-up company to obtain strategic investment from a top-tier global automaker, Alliance Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi. With a fleet of over 100 vehicles, it’s also China’s first and the world’s second self-driving company to have obtained permits for fully driverless road tests. WeRide has been focusing on the strategic alliance among AI technology companies, car makers and mobility service platforms. In August 2019, WeRide joined hands with Guangzhou Baiyun Taxi Group and established WeRide RoboTaxi, a joint venture providing self-driving mobility services. WeRide officially launched the nation’s first Robotaxi service to the general public in Guangzhou in November 2019, operating on central urban open roads in the Huangpu and Guangzhou Development District, which covers a territory of 144 square kilometers. In June 2020, the WeRide Robotaxi service was made available on Alibaba’s Amap (also known as AutoNavi), a national mobility aggregator service platform, gaining access to a more mature mobility service market.

About Institute of Transportation Engineering, Tsinghua University

Institute of Transportation Engineering is an academic research institute at Tsinghua University. Officially established in 2007, the Institute is dedicated to research areas that include: traffic planning and management, intelligent transportation systems, traffic information and control, intelligent vehicles and traffic safety. As a leading research institute in the field of transportation planning in China, it has undertaken multiple endeavors of innovative research in areas such as the theory and methodology of economic circle transportation planning, sustainable transportation theory and traffic congestion mechanism analysis & countermeasures. Intelligent transportation systems are another important focus for the Institute, which has completed a number of major national, provincial and ministerial-level projects, producing significant findings.

Among the WeRide Robotaxi riders surveyed, 97% are between 18–50 years old, indicating the young and middle-age groups dominate in the early adoption of driverless services in China’s first tier cities. They travel frequently and are more ready to embrace new technologies. They are also largely responsible for making mobility decisions for children and the elderly in their families, potentially promoting Robotaxi’s quick and wide adoption in the future.

Nearly 60% of riders use WeRide Robotaxi for their regular commutes. In the past year of operation, WeRide Robotaxi has won over a group of loyal users from the traditional mobility market. 28% of passengers ride at least once a week and 15% ride at least three times a week.

47% of riders learned of WeRide Robotaxi from colleagues and friends. WeRide’s ongoing efforts in promoting and expanding the service to the public have laid a solid base for steady growth in new Robotaxi users.

WeRide Robotaxi riders have high hopes for self-driving technology and are willing to embrace and promote new mobility methods.

WeRide Robotaxi riders hope for an expansion of the Robotaxi services, providing more flexibility and convenience on their daily travels. Nearly 90% of riders call for a wider operation area for WeRide Robotaxi’s service, and over 70% of passengers wish for more flexible setting of pick-up and drop-off spots.

Robotaxi is becoming an effective alternative to traditional transport means. 63% of Robotaxi trips are made in place of passenger car mobility options (55% are made in place of taxis/ride-hailing cars and 8% instead of private cars). 35% of Robotaxi riders complete their trips on foot with no additional transport required.

27% of Robotaxi riders use it as an alternative to taking public transport, while walking and public transport are the two major methods used to complete their Robotaxi trips. It may herald a prospect for reduced use of public transport as a result of the popularization of Robotaxi, which may not help to alleviate traffic congestion to the degree that is expected. Demand-responsive bus services, for example, catering to the need of short-distance trips within one to three kilometers, will become a new opportunity for self-driving.

When both traditional taxis/ride-hailing cars and Robotaxi are available, and leaving price and other factors aside, 28% riders choose Robotaxi for their trips and only 9% choose taxis/ride-hailing cars, showing the advantage Robotaxi enjoys. Meanwhile, nearly 60% of passengers consider price and efficiency essential to their choice of transport means. 43% of passengers will choose the most price-competitive mobility service. As Robotaxi competes for its share in the mobility market, the principle of good value for money also applies.

Those who have better ride experience with Robotaxi, are more environment-conscious and more positive about owning self-driving vehicles will more inclined to continue to take Robotaxi in the future. Robotaxi’s ongoing expansion of services to the public is gradually transforming the mobility landscape for the future.

The mobility experience brought by WeRide Robotaxi and the popularization of self-driving technology have impacted people’s appetite for private car purchases. According to the survey, more than 20% of respondents say it is “very likely” that they will cut down the number of private cars they own or refrain from buying a private car at all. Among Robotaxi riders who own one or more private cars, 46% say they may remove one from their personal car fleet; for those with no private cars, 43% say they may not buy any in the future.

A fully driverless future is taking shape. 39% of the passengers surveyed are willing to ride fully driverless taxis after one year’s safe road test, while 37% say they are ready for it now.

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