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Greenville Business Magazine

BMW, Mercedes Put Development Cooperation in Automated Driving on Hold

Jun 25, 2020 10:16AM ● By David Dykes

By David Dykes

The BMW Group and Mercedes-Benz AG are putting their cooperation on development of next-generation technology for automated driving temporarily on hold, the companies announced.

Following extensive review, the two companies said in a joint statement they arrived at a "mutual and amicable" agreement to concentrate on their existing development paths – which might also include working with current or new partners. 

Both emphasized they might cooperate at a later date and that the companies' underlying approach to matters such as safety and customer benefits in the field of automated driving remains "highly compatible."

The BMW Group and Mercedes-Benz AG both are working separately on current generations for highly automated driving and have achieved what they said is "major progress."

However, BMW and Mercedes-Benz said they were unable to hold "detailed expert discussions" and talk to suppliers about technology roadmaps until a contract was signed last year. 

In those talks – and after extensive review – both sides concluded that, in view of the expense involved in creating a shared technology platform, as well as current business and economic conditions, the timing wasn't right for successful implementation of the cooperation, the companies said. 

“We have systematically further developed our technology and scalable platform with partners like Intel, Mobileye, FCA and Ansys,” said Klaus Fröhlich, a member of the Board of Management of BMW AG, responsible for development. “Our current technology generation offers very strong, sustainable potential: With extremely powerful sensors and computing power, our robust modular system puts us in an excellent position to offer our customers what they need for many years.”

“Our expertise complements that of the BMW Group very well, as our successful collaborations have proved," said Markus Schäfer, a member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG responsible for group research, and Mercedes-Benz Cars chief operating officer. "Next to decarbonisation, digitalization is a major strategic pillar for Mercedes-Benz. To prepare for the future challenges of a rapidly changing environment, we are currently also sounding out other possibilities with partners outside the automotive sector.”

Both companies stressed they would continue working in "close cooperation" in other areas as planned.

In 2015, the two companies joined with Audi AG to acquire the location and technology platform HERE, which now has a broad and international shareholder structure. 

In early 2019, the BMW Group and Daimler AG also pooled their mobility services in a joint venture under the umbrella of the NOW family.

BMW Manufacturing employs 11,000 people at its seven million-square-foot Spartanburg plant, which is the global producer of the BMW X3, X3 M, X5, X5 M and X7 Sports Activity Vehicles and X4, X4 M, X6 and X6 M Sports Activity Coupes.