Volkswagen will invest $2.6 billion in resources to join Ford as an equal partner in autonomous car technology firm Argo AI, the companies announced Friday.
The automakers will work together to develop a self-driving system and integrate it into their own vehicles, with Ford already planning to debut a hybrid utility vehicle aimed at providing commercial ride-hailing and package delivery services by 2021.
The system is initially being designed at Level 4 capability, which means it will be able to operate autonomously only in limited, mapped-out areas. Argo AI has been testing it in a few major metropolitan areas, including Miami and Detroit.
Ford is also gaining access to the electric car platform Volkswagen is launching next year and will use it to build and sell its own battery-powered model in Europe starting in 2023 as it develops a separate lineup of zero-emissions vehicles for the U.S. market.
VW’s Argo AI investment includes $1 billion in cash, which matches what Ford first committed to the company in 2017, along with the integration of its existing Autonomous Intelligent Driving company that is currently 200 employees strong.
The new collaboration builds on a growing alliance between the automakers that kicked off in January when they announced plans to co-develop new commercial vans and small pickups for regions outside the U.S.
This is a developing story, check back for updates.