The coronavirus outbreak has inspired SAIC-GM-Wuling Automobile, General Motors’ light-vehicle joint venture with SAIC Motor Corp., to find a practical new use for its two-seat electric cars.
The EVs, rendered driverless, have been used to tow trailers since March 5 to ship parts and components for workshops at two assembly plants in the southwest China city of Liuzhou.
The company said this week 75 such vehicles have been deployed on 16 routes at both assembly plants it operates in Liuzhou.
By providing contact-free logistics, the self-driving EVs can ward off the risk of virus transmission and cut labor costs by more than 50 percent, the company said.
Operating around the clock, the fleet has expanded SAIC-GM-Wuling’s logistics capacity and improved delivery services, it added.
SAIC-GM-Wuling markets entry-level cars under the Baojun brand and minibuses under the Wuling marque.
The EVs deployed for the driverless logistic services were adapted from the first EV product the company distributed under the Baojun brand.
It plans to expand applications of the self-driving EVs and upgrade them with 5G wireless connectivity, SAIC-GM-Wuling said.
In China, GM also operates a separate partnership with SAIC to build Cadillac, Buick and Chevrolet cars and light trucks.