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Earlier this week, we reported on news that Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) had entered a partnership with California-based autonomous tech startup Aurora Innovation to develop a fleet of self-driving vehicles. Since then, a number of prominent players in the auto industry have made moves to strengthen their position in the AV space.
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Here’s a recap of this week’s moves:
- Volkswagen (VW): The German automaker, which was one of Aurora Innovations first partners, revealed that it has ended its business relationship with the tech startup. Instead, VW will work with Ford, as the companies are reportedly close to reaching a deal in which they’ll develop self-driving and electric cars. For the German automaker, it makes sense "to cooperate with an American player given that the regulatory conditions for preparing the breakthrough of autonomous driving are more advanced in the US than they are in Europe," according to a statement by VW CEO Herbert Diess, who was speaking in reference to a deal with Ford, cited by The Verge.
- Ford: Beyond the reported tie-up Ford has with VW, the company’s majority-owned AV unit, Argo AI, brought its third-generation AV to Detroit. The Ford Fusion Hybrid AVs, which come with an upgraded sensor suite and safety features, are also being tested in Miami, Palo Alto, Pittsburgh, and Washington, DC.
- Hyundai: Following a year-long relationship with Aurora, Hyundai has decided to invest in the startup, according to TechCrunch. The two companies have been working together to integrate Aurora’s autonomous tech into Hyundai’s fuel cell vehicle, the NEXO. This latest investment shows a commitment to Aurora by Hyundai, and will likely be a precursor to an expanding relationship.
- Uber/Volvo: Ride-hailing giant Uber and Swedish automaker Volvo unveiled their latest take on their self-driving vehicle. The XC90 SUV has been fitted with Uber’s AV technology and comes with a number of safety features, including backup systems for braking, steering, and power that will bring the vehicle to a halt in the case of a system failure.
While auto companies aren’t expected to see meaningful returns from their AVs in the short term, the amount of activity this week clearly shows that they are more determined than ever to strengthen their positions in the market.
The automakers that can successfully build up their AV capabilities will be in line to take advantage of a lucrative opportunity — the global AV market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 39%, from $54 billion in 2019 to $557 billion by 2026, according to Allied Market Research.
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