Dhe attention was huge when Herbert Diess and Jim Hackett, then the bosses of Volkswagen and Ford, announced their new cooperation on autonomous driving in autumn 2019. Together, the two car companies invested in Argo AI, a software company whose technology should enable self-driving delivery services and shared taxis. Three years later there is a hangover. The development is more complex than expected, which Doug Field, acting head of technology at Ford, put in a nutshell this week. “It’s more difficult to develop a robotaxi capable of navigating a dense urban environment than to put a human on the moon.”
After months of discussion, now comes the quick retreat. Argo AI ceases its business activities – with financial consequences for the two partners, who each hold 40 percent of the shares. Ford writes off $2.7 billion on its commitment, which means that the Americans are in the red in their interim balance sheet. For the third quarter, the bottom line is a loss of $827 million after a profit of $1.8 billion in the same period last year. The effects on VW will become apparent this Friday. In the morning, CEO Oliver Blume, who replaced Diess in September, presented the figures for the third quarter.