BMW, Daimler Shelve Robo-Car Alliance
BMW and Daimler are suspending their effort to co-develop a shared platform for advanced robotic car systems.
The rivals say they concluded it will be cheaper for each to pursue its own existing programs than to start from scratch on a new architecture.
BMW Group and Daimler’s Mercedes-Benz unit finalized an agreement a year ago to collaborate, hoping to save money and reduce development time. Their initial goal was to develop a scalable architecture for Level 3 and Level 4 autonomous driving systems by about 2024. A Level 5 fully automated system was to follow.
But detailed talks between the carmakers and key suppliers, coupled with deteriorating business conditions accelerated by the coronavirus pandemic, made the partners change their minds.
“The timing,” they say in a joint statement, “is not right for successful implementation of the cooperation.”
Never Say Never
The companies emphasize that they might return to the partnership later. They also say they will continue to cooperate within two other alliance arrangements regarding high-definition mapping and mobility services.
In 2015, BMW and Daimler joined with Volkswagen’s Audi unit in a €2.8 billion ($3.1 billion) venture to acquire Nokia’s HERE mapping business. HERE has since developed an open platform for connected cars so they can share information with each other about traffic, road signs, hazard warnings and parking spots.
In 2018, the two carmakers combined their mobility services (electric car charging, ride-hailing, parking, car-sharing and multi-modal trip planning) into a $1.1 billion, Berlin-based venture.
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