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China can now rival the US with new innovations in tech, VW finance chief says

Anmar Frangoul
  • A range of innovations are transforming the automotive industry. 
  • These include autonomous vehicles and the development of 5G infrastructure. 

China is helping to drive technological change in the automotive sector, the chief financial officer of Volkswagen told CNBC Thursday.

When asked about new innovations such as self-driving cars and 5G mobile networks, VW's Frank Witter said he was impressed by the rate of technological advancements coming from the world's second-largest economy.

"I think for the longest time we have been used to looking to the west coast of the United States when we were talking about innovation and new technologies," Witter told CNBC's "Squawk Box Europe."

"This is still valid but at the same time you are absolutely right to point to China," he added.

Witter said that, looking at motor shows in China year-over-year, it was "just amazing how quickly the industry is progressing," highlighting development at China's OEMs (original equipment manufacturers).

"The driver of technology is China, and we are very pleased with the progress we are making, together with our partners but also in Mobility Asia," he added.

The Volkswagen Group's relationship with China dates back to 1978. In 2017, it launched a joint-venture with the state-owned Anhui Jianghuai Automobile Co., looking at e-mobility.

In May 2018, it set up Mobility Asia, which focuses on connectivity, smart mobility ecosystems, infrastructure ecosystems, service and data monetization, and autonomous cars.

Looking at the bigger picture, when it comes to autonomous driving a range of technologies are being developed and tested.

At the end of April 2019, South Korean telecoms giant SK Telecom signed an agreement with the Incheon Free Economic Zone (IFEZ) to develop 5G-based self-driving infrastructure.

In a statement at the time, SK Telecom said it would produce a high definition map covering the whole IFEZ area. It added that the map would have "centimeter-level accuracy" and provide information relating to road conditions, lanes, road slopes and speed limits.

5G refers to the fifth generation of mobile networks. While it promises cell phone users incredibly fast browsing experiences, it will also benefit the autonomous vehicle sector through its ability to process reams of information and data simultaneously and quickly.



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