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Volvo reveals new robo-taxi in race to autonomy

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By Reuters

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) – Volvo Cars presented a fully electric robo-taxi on Wednesday, as the Geely-owned Swedish company races to meet an ambitious target for driverless vehicle sales with its Uber supply deal on hold.

Besides city driving, Volvo said the 360c would create new demand for inter-city taxi passengers travelling as far as 300 km (186 miles), and even challenge some short-haul aviation services.

“The business will change in the coming years and Volvo should lead the change of our industry,” Chief Executive Hakan Samuelsson said in a statement.

Volvo expects autonomous cars to account for a third of its sales by 2025, the company said in June, while fully electric cars claim 50 percent.

The world’s largest automakers are developing new types of vehicle such as self-driving passenger shuttles as they look to capture new markets in an autonomous future that may also see direct car sales dwindle as fewer people own them.

Tech companies such as Uber and Alphabet’s <GOOGL.O> Waymo are pouring billions of dollars into autonomous car development, while auto manufacturers such as Daimler <DAIGn.DE> are testing prototypes.

Few details have yet been announced, however, a year before Daimler and partner Bosch are due to deploy robo-taxis in California’s Silicon Valley.

So far, Volvo’s self-driving ambitions have been closely linked with Uber, which was operating a fleet of autonomous Volvo XC90s until a recent fatal collision with a pedestrian brought the programme to a halt.

Volvo, whose first stand-alone autonomous car is due in 2021, is exploring a listing this year.

Geely, its Chinese parent, has hired three investment banks for an initial public offering that could value Volvo at $16-$30 billion, a person familiar with the matter has told Reuters.

Samuelsson has said the company remains focussed on meeting the challenges of electric and self-driving cars and has the funds to do so with or without a stock market flotation.

(Reporting by Esha Vaish in Stockholm; editing by Georgina Prodhan and Jason Neely)