Volkswagen and Ford are joining forces, through a partnership with Argo AI, to better compete in the self-driving car market. This move is intended to put VW and Ford on a more competitive footing with other large automakers.
Ford entered a partnership with Argo AI in 2017. VW won’t be working directly with Ford, however. The two companies will both use Argo’s technology for their distinct projects. Other big competitors like GM, Daimler, and Tesla also have autonomous car technology in the works. Elon Musk even claimed that Tesla’s self-driving technology would be fully functional this year.
This also comes at a point in history where it’s clearer than ever that large automakers need to adapt to a changing market. Most observers argue that this was already clear enough before the emergence of COVID-19. Global car production was down. Younger generations were more interested in preventing climate change than having a large family sedan of their own. The changes linked to the pandemic have only served to hammer the point home.
Late to the party, however, doesn’t mean that VW and Ford won’t show up at all. Even after the catastrophic diesel emissions scandal, VW has managed to bounce back surprisingly fast. Some predict that it could be the first to produce a profitable mass-market electric car. Ford has also made waves by shifting focus to “new and more efficient mobility solutions.” The new products will look more like Uber than the typical car fleets of the past century.
The battle over the autonomous vehicle market has just begun. It remains to be seen who will take the lead. Many are betting on younger, more agile players such as Tesla. Even big tech companies like Apple and Google seem set on getting involved. But nobody is ignoring the likes of VW or Ford. The old industrial dinosaurs are certain to throw their weight around as competition intensifies.