VW just completed a $2.6-billion investment in Ford-backed ArgoAI — and an exec said the first autonomous vehicle would be the ID. BUZZ (F)


On Tuesday, Ford and Volkswagen announced they had completed an investment in the self-driving startup ArgoAI.

The German automaker and the 116-year-old US company said last July that they would combine forces and share costs to advance autonomous mobility. Now VW has finished a $2.6 billion total investment, involving both cash and its former self-driving operations.

"Our mission is built on the importance of developing trust in self-driving technology. Now that we will be working across two continents with our partners Ford and Volkswagen, that mission is more important than ever. With support from two of the world's largest automakers, our future is bright," said ArgoAI CEO Bryan Salesky and Reinhard Stolle, Vice President of what's now called Argo Munich, in a statement.

Thomas Sedran, CEO Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles, also revealed in a Linkedin post that VW's first ArgoAI-enabled vehicle would be the revamped, all-electric VW bus, the ID. BUZZ. The vehicle will be capable of Level 4 autonomy — driving itself without human intervention in a defined area.

Ford, VW, and ArgoAI have taken an interesting approach to developing self-driving tech. ArgoAI effectively remains an independent company, with Ford and VW as investors and customers.

"There are several important parts to developing a great self-driving service including the self-driving software, vehicle development, fleet operations and the customer experience," Ford Autonomous Vehicles CEO John Lawler said in a statement.

"To be successful in this space, a company needs to look at every aspect of the business. It's not about being first. It's about providing value to our customers, making people's lives easier and offering cities new and improved mobility solutions."

But Lawler also highlighted the motivation behind the agreement among the three companies.

"Building a safe, scalable and trusted self-driving service ... is no small task," he said.

"It's also not a cheap one. We've committed to spending more than $4 billion through 2023 on the development of our self-driving service. A large part of this investment is dedicated to developing the self-driving system. With Volkswagen's investment in Argo AI, we will now share the cost of developing Argo AI's technology."

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