The joint project between BMW and Mercedes was expected to result in self-driving cars by 2024.
As far as automotive partnerships go, the BMW and Mercedes-Benz collaboration was one of the more unexpected. But whereas the focus on these two marques is usually about which one can outmuscle the other, the more practically-minded mission here was to join forces in further developing autonomous driving technologies.
This makes sense since all manufacturers are entering unchartered territory in safely achieving the next level of autonomy, and the more resources to achieve this goal, the better. However, the promising partnership has now officially been put on hold in what is described as a mutual, amicable decision between the two automotive giants.
The reason given is that the timing isn't right due to volatile business and economic conditions, along with the cost of developing a shared technology platform. Both marques will, however, continue forging ahead with their individual plans, which may or may not include working with other partners, according to Markus Schäfer, who is responsible for Daimler Group research.
"Our expertise complements that of the BMW Group very well, as our successful collaborations have proved," said Schäfer. He went on to say that Mercedes is also investigating working with companies that don't necessarily operate within the automotive sector.
Both brands have demonstrated that they're on the cutting edge of available semi-autonomous driving innovations, and it's natural to expect more of the same when the 2021 Mercedes-Benz S-Class arrives. The S-Class is often the first Mercedes to showcase the brand's best innovations.
BMW, on the other hand, conceded earlier this year that designing autonomous vehicles will represent a major challenge, especially for Level 4 autonomy. Even upcoming BMWs like the all-electric i4 will likely not stray beyond Level 3 self-driving tech. So, while the anticipated collaboration between these two automotive giants may not produce results as quickly as expected, at least it's still on the table.