Volkswagen is teaming up with Horizon Robotic – but despite its name, the carmaker isn’t taking on Hyundai’s Boston Dynamics division.
Late last week, Volkswagen announced a deal totalling €2.4 billion ($3.7 billion) with the Chinese firm Horizon Robotics.
The two will form a joint venture company which will be 60 per cent owned by Volkswagen through it its software arm Cariad.
According to Reuters, about €1.3 billion ($2 billion) of Volkswagen’s spend will be capital for the new company. The remainder of the money will go into Horizon Robotics itself.
The joint venture’s main job will be developing advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) and autonomous driving (AD) technology for the Chinese market, in particular fully integrated hardware and software packages for electric vehicles.
As well as developing self-driving technology, the tie-up with Horizon Robotics is part of Volkswagen’s push to allow its regional arms to operate with greater independence in order to tailor products and services to their customers.
Despite this, Ralf Brandstätter, head of Volkswagen China, told the news wire learnings from the Horizon Robotics joint venture will be fed through to Volkswagen’s self-driving efforts elsewhere.
In the US, Volkswagen has an autonomous technology partnership with mobile chip-maker Qualcomm, while in Europe it is working with STMicroelectronics.
As we noted in our 2021 Global Sales Race feature, China is easily Volkswagen’s largest and most important market.
The German automaker sold 3,304,800 vehicles there across its multitude of brands in 2021, easily besting all of western Europe (2,860,400).
Horizon Robotics is no stranger to the Volkswagen Group as it currently works with the Audi brand in China. It also supplies components and technology to Continental, Li Auto, and SAIC, which owns the MG and Maxus brands.
Volkswagen is also not the first foreign firm to invest in Horizon, with chip-maker Intel having already bought into the firm. Other investors include local automotive rivals BYD and Great Wall Motor.