Friday, July 12, 2024

Ford, VW pullout dooms autonomous technology company Argo AI

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Autonomous vehicle startup Argo AI will close their operations. Employees and spare parts will be absorbed by its main support companies, Ford Motor Co and Volkswagen AG. This news was first reported by TechCrunch on Wednesday, October 26 citing a source familiar with the matter.

Argo employees were told that some of them would accept offers from the two automakers. But TechCrunch reported that it was not clear how many employees would be transferred to Ford, Volkswagen or lost their jobs. Ford did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

Argo AI in July said it had laid off about 150 employees for making adjustments to its business plan. They still have over 2,000 employees globally after the layoffs.

Started in 2016, Pittsburgh-based Argo AI developed the technology behind driverless vehicles. They have raised an investment fund of about 3.6 billion US dollars, mainly from Ford and Volkswagen.

Meanwhile, Volkswagen AG on Wednesday also stated that it is no longer investing in Argo AI. Instead they are now concentrating their automated driving efforts on existing partnerships with Bosch and Horizon Robotics in China.

Volkswagen commercial vehicles will explore partnerships with a new partner who will be named soon, a VW spokesperson said in a statement. Especially with the prototype for his electric van, ID. Buzz, which is currently in the pilot phase.

The first results of the partnership between the software unit Volkswagen Cariad and Bosch, announced in January this year, are planned for launch in 2023.

Volkswagen revealed their $2.6 billion investment in Argo AI, a Pittsburgh-based self-driving startup, in June 2020.

The investment means the startup is jointly controlled by the German automaker and Ford Motor Co, which made the initial investment in Argo AI shortly after its founding.

“Volkswagen is working closely with Argo AI to enable further job opportunities for employees and continues to develop promising projects in autonomous driving. All further cooperation with Ford remains unchanged,” a Volkswagen statement said.

ID.Buzz Self-Driving will debut in 2025

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