Recently, the US-based company Argo, which is focused on developing self-driving technology, announced it would be closing. Some of the company’s employees are reportedly going to be hired by Argo’s two biggest investors, Volkswagen and Ford, and it seems that bankruptcy hasn’t fazed the German manufacturer in the least. Despite a $2.6 billion investment into Argo, the Wolfsburg-based manufacturer believes they are on track to roll out autonomous vehicles to the mainstream by the end of the decade.
VW boss Thomas Schafer recently commented on the topic and said the automaker was “consolidating its development partnerships” without providing further details. However, Schafer said there are huge difficulties for the entire industry but that investment must not stop because VW has to be early in the game.
“You have to focus [autonomous driving] and that’s why we work hard in the CV division because once that happens, it opens up a pool of advantages and opportunities. I wouldn’t say winner takes it all but it’s a game you should play early on. You can’t wait and then fast forward, so that’s why we’re really focused on that,” Schafer told Autocar.
Interestingly, Volkswagen will rely on its commercial vehicle division to lead the company’s autonomous strategy. The department is currently working on a fully self-driving version of the ID. Buzz, which is expected to be used as a robotaxi and delivery vehicle by the middle of the decade. It is still in the early stages of development and currently Volkswagen is evaluating whether the vehicle requires a steering wheel or not.
VW’s program is slated to start in Hamburg, Germany, where the company is currently running autonomous test vehicles based on the ID. buzzing. If all goes to plan, the service will then be expanded to an additional 50 cities in Europe and North America by 2030. By then, Volkswagen hopes to have mainstream automated vehicles to offer its customers as well.