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Automotive Partnerships Deepen as the Race Toward Autonomy Shifts into Higher Gear

Two recent and giant partnerships between OEMs just announced a stronger push for autonomous vehicles, sharing the cost, burden and potential benefits together as partners [1-3].

In January of this year, we reported that VW and Ford joined forces to create a global alliance [4] in order to tackle the oncoming challenges facing the automotive industry in a number of different areas, one of them being the rise of autonomy and driverless technology. A specific deal regarding AVs is now on the table, with VW investing $1.7 billion into Ford-backed autonomous start-up Argo.ai, making the start-up an equally held joint venture between the two OEMs [1,2]. However, this is not VW’s first venture into AV tech, as the company has previously partnered with Silicon Valley-based start-up Aurora [5]. How this new alliance will affect that partnership is not clear yet.

One of the biggest pieces of automotive news in the past few weeks was another global alliance, this time formed between German rivals BMW and Daimler [6]. Initially, this partnership was set to focus on shared mobility services and auxiliary utilities like parking and charging, but this venture is now also diving into the realm of autonomy together. The two companies will now share costs associated with developing autonomous technologies such as driver assistance systems and parking features, with a possibility for projects with higher degrees of autonomy between them in the future [3]. That being the deal, they will still pursue other driverless ventures independently; Daimler will continue its project with Bosch to deploy a robo-taxi fleet to the market in coming years, while BMW will continue to develop autonomous cars together with Israeli tech company Mobileye and Intel, whom together aim to be market ready by 2021.

 

Personal comments

As the autonomy race continues to develop, it is becoming clearer for OEMs just how much time, effort and money the endeavour of developing and putting AVs on the roads is going to cost them. Unwilling to take on the burden alone and risk struggling behind their competitors, we now see a trend of independent giants partnering with rivals to increase their chances of success and avoid falling into irrelevancy next to their robotic counterparts in the future. It also seems that this relationship is not going to be a monogamous one, as many of these actors have several autonomous ventures with different actors, probably in a bid to further hedge their bets in a rapidly changing landscape.

 

Written by Darijan Jelica, RISE Viktoria.

 

Sources

1. 2019-02-26. Report says VW to invest $1.7 billion in Ford self-driving unit Argo

2. 2019-02-26. Volkswagen said to plan $1.7 billion investment in Ford’s self-driving car unit

3. 2019-02-28. BMW, Daimler pool resources on automated driving technology

4. 2019-01-24. Ford and Volkswagen to form global alliance

5. 2018-01-10. Alliances between automakers, tech companies and mobility start-ups, an update

6. 2019-02-28. BMW and Daimler unveil their $1 billion mobility joint venture