Ford, Volkswagen and Argo AI made it official on Tuesday. VW has made an investment in the self-driving technology company, which charts a course for shared development costs for any autonomous vehicle technologies to come.
It’s unclear how deep VW reached into its wallet, but a previous report pegged a coming investment at $1.7 billion. At the time, Argo AI was reportedly valued at $4 billion, which would put VW’s investment at nearly 50% of its value. VW previously said it planned a total of $2.6 billion worth of investment in Argo AI as well, while Ford already committed $4 billion through 2023 and said a vast portion of the sum will go toward a self-driving system’s development.
While we don’t have a dollar amount for today’s announcement, the investment is a big bridge built for the growing VW and Ford alliance.
Last summer, both automakers announced they’d work with Argo AI to develop self-driving car tech in both the US and Europe. VW’s investment gives Argo AI some pretty massive scale, and the company rightly points out it’s the only one with commercial plans in the works for both the US and Europe. Argo AI says the scale for its company is crucial as it works to develop a cost-efficient self-driving system.
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What the deal doesn’t mean is total collaboration. Ford underscored that it will be “fiercely competitive” in building its own self-driving service and not share any plans with VW. And with the German automaker on board to share costs, the Blue Oval can redeploy capital elsewhere, without reducing its investment in autonomous technologies.
Aside from the Argo AI partnership, VW and Ford have tied the knot in other regards. Ford will build a new pickup truck for both itself and VW by 2022 and the German automaker will lend Ford the keys to its MEB electric car platform. Ford will then develop its own electric vehicle on VW’s platform. Building cars isn’t cheap, and further collaboration to reduce costs is the name of the game these days.
As for when we’ll see a self-driving service from Ford, it’s been delayed. The automaker said this year a planned robotaxi service will debut in 2022 and blamed the coronavirus pandemic. To date, no company has launched a truly public ride-hailing service with self-driving cars.
Join us for a ride in Ford’s prototype self-driving car