News from Ford, NVIDIA, Mercedes-Benz, Waymo, Volvo, Amazon and Zoox: your monthly automotive briefing
Another month gone, and once more it was full of big news in the automotive industry. Let’s dive right in; here’s my pick of items that stood out this June:
“Ford Mustang Mach-E hands-free driving to compete with Tesla, GM” – via CNET/RoadShow
Tesla has the Autopilot, GM is building out its Super Cruise to Ultra Cruise (see last months newsletter), and Ford? Well, apparently they’re not going to be outdone and just announced the “Active Drive Assist” which, according to the article “will enable hands-free motoring on more than 100,000 miles of divided highways in the US and Canada under specific circumstances.” The first model confirmed to come with this option is going to be the 2021 Mustang Mach-E – another example of autonomous driving and EV tech going hand in hand.
If you still believe that NVIDIA is only in the AV space to drum up interest for its graphics cards, you might want to reconsider: This month it was revealed that Mercedes-Benz “will be employing NVIDIA’s new DRIVE platform technologies as standard equipment in all vehicles, starting in 2024.” With German automakers being notoriously hesitant to broadly adopt US tech in this area (Daimler was collaborating to build its own AV tech with BMW until one day before this announcement), this is a massive change of strategy in my view – and it will be interesting to see if other German carmakers might follow up with similar moves.
“Waymo, Volvo partner to develop electric robotaxis” – via TechCrunch
Speaking of new partnerships: Volvo, having just announced last month that they want to sell autonomous L4 production vehicles in 2022, are now collaborating with Waymo. This is apparently an exclusive deal, aiming to integrate the self-driving company’s AV technology with a new electric vehicle by Volvo, purpose-built for ride-hailing applications. This looks similar to the recently announced cooperation between FCA and Voyage, whose CEO Oliver Cameron has stated that he believes a vehicle partner is absolutely necessary for an AV company to reach the necessary level of systems integration. Personally, I’m all for inter-company collaboration, so I’ll keep my fingers crossed!
Bit of a dramatic headline there, but still an interesting analysis by Brad Templeton, himself a former member of Google’s car team: Amazon has closed the deal on Zoox, a company looking to build robotaxis. It will definitely be interesting to see if Amazon treats this mainly as a lateral investment (Zoox’ leadership is apparently staying on) or if they will collaborate more closely: Autonomous delivery would obviously be a massive cost saver for Amazon if it could be pulled off. Either way, it’s probably going to be a while until we see results.
That’s it for this month, I hope you enjoy the read and the early summer. Oh, and I promise we will have some atlatec news of our own in the July edition – until then!
All the best