Self-driving tech costs will be shared by the two companies
Around July last year, Ford and Volkswagen announced that they would be partnering with each other and Argo AI in an effort to create a strong coalition that would spearhead the autonomous driving trade in both the US and Europe. As of Monday, June 1, Volkswagen's contribution to the project has been finalized. This will allow both brands to save costs on developing their own tech, while Argo AI benefits from the investment and is able to push ahead with innovation in this sector.
Ford says that its $4 billion investment in self-driving tech is still a huge priority and the investment of Volkswagen won't mean that Ford takes a back seat. We earlier reported that Ford's plans for this tech were in trouble, but this seems to have been resolved. Could a Fusion soon share tech with a Jetta?
Instead, both VW and Ford will share Argo AI's development costs while remaining independent and building their own individual services. According to Ford's vice president and CEO of Ford's Autonomous Vehicles department, John Lawler, Ford's extra money will reportedly be spent on "building the best overall customer experience" for clients of its service software development and fleet operations. Essentially, what this means is that both Ford and VW will help fund Argo AI, which will develop the self-driving tech that both automakers need to remain competitive in the future. Meanwhile, each brand will work on how to make its own service attractive to clients through the associated services surrounding self-driving tech.
This partnership will have immense value for all three stakeholders, with the collaboration making Argo AI's software the first that can be commercially deployed in both the US and Europe. It will also have the largest geographic deployment of any autonomous software anywhere in the world thus far. As Lawler notes, scale and reach are important factors in making such systems economically viable and trustworthy the world over. The idea is not to be the first company or companies to debut this tech on a large scale. Rather, Ford says it wants to provide value to its customers by ensuring that the supporting services around self-driving are all user-friendly, reliable, and worthwhile for these customers. While others like Audi have put a hold on autonomous driving and Mercedes has admitted delays too, Ford and VW are pushing forward and adapting. Well done to the two rivals.