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French driverless auto company to manufacture in Adelaide

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A French driverless vehicle company will set up its Asia-Pacific manufacturing base in South Australia, the State Government announced today.

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Premier Jay Weatherill said from France that the Government and Navya had “agreed on plans” to establish the company’s regional manufacturing facility here, complementing its operations in France and the US.

Weatherill made the announcement after meeting with Navya CEO Christophe Sapet in Paris, with both men describing the arrangement as a “partnership”.

The Government isn’t saying what it will contribute to entice the company here, nor where the facility will be set up, nor how many jobs will be created.

In response to questions from InDaily today, a spokesperson said details were being worked through.

Navya builds “100 per cent electric and autonomous” shuttles which can carry up to 15 people.

The Premier said the company had been “attracted by South Australia’s carbon neutral and renewable energy focus which aligns with its own global interests”.

While the firm has manufacturing operations in Lyon, France and Detroit, Michigan, “a plant in Adelaide would secure operations in Europe, the Americas and Asia-Pacific”.

“Establishing a driverless car vehicle operation here in South Australia is the perfect bridge connecting our past in traditional vehicle manufacturing and our future in advanced manufacturing in a clean, carbon neutral environment,” Weatherill said in a statement.

“South Australia is already leading the nation in driverless vehicle technology and this is the next logical step.

“I look forward to partnering with Navya, as we work towards establishing their Asia-Pacific manufacturing operations here in South Australia.”

Sapet said the move was “a natural progression in our growth strategy and we are delighted to have been able to lay the groundwork of a partnership agreement with the Government of South Australia”.

Holden will cease manufacturing in Elizabeth next month.

Navya was formed in 2014, and has since held trials of its technology in cities in Europe and the US.

Navya shuttles were trialled on the streets of Las Vegas earlier this year, alongside regular traffic. In June, Navya announced its driverless vehicles would be used at the University of Michigan to move students between facilities.

According to Navya’s website, it employs 120 people in Paris and Lyon.

The Government made exploring driverless technology one of its goals for this term in office, hosting the nation’s first trials of driverless cars on public roads.

Earlier this year, Adelaide Airport announced it would trial driverless shuttles.

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