Tesla is offering a 50% discount on the “fully driverless” version of its Autopilot assistance system in China, part of efforts to boost its adoption in the country.

Why it matters: Increased use of full Autopilot in China will help Tesla to optimize its localized self-driving solution for the Chinese market, which is its second-largest globally after the US.

  • Tesla’s China software team currently sends data and feedback from local users to the US for processing, according to a media report.
  • It will finish work on a local research and development center in Beijing later this year to handle optimization efforts for the Chinese market in the future.
  • Tesla, which enjoys support from the Chinese government, released a picture of its Gigafactory 3 Shanghai on its social media account on Wednesday, saying it will go into operation by the year-end.

Details: Chinese Model S and Model X owners who bought the enhanced version of the Autopilot, can spend 50% less on replacing their system with the full self-driving package at RMB 27,800 (roughly $3,950).

  • This is not the first time the US auto giant has slashed prices of Autopilot in China. The company offered the system to Model 3 buyers free of charge during May and June this year.
  • Tesla also cut Model X car prices by up to RMB 341,100 in March.
  • Chinese media cited a company spokesperson as saying it hopes to “provide more customers access to driverless functions.”
  • Tesla’s Autopilot supports a range of capabilities, including automatic parking and prompted lane changes.
  • Tesla was unavailable for comment when contacted by TechNode.

Context: Tesla has come under scrutiny following the deaths of at least three drivers when using the Autopilot system globally over the last three years.

  • There is a regulatory void in China’s legal system at present regarding liability in self-driving car accidents. Drivers are not protected by the law in car crashes even if the collision was due to vehicle failure rather than human error.
  • To adapt autonomous driving solutions specific to Chinese traffic conditions, self-driving developers need to collect and input local traffic data to optimize AV decision algorithms for Chinese roads.

Jill Shen

Jill Shen is Shanghai-based technology reporter. She covers Chinese mobility, autonomous vehicles, and electric cars. Connect with her via e-mail: jill.shen@technode.com or Twitter: @yushan_shen

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