BMW is accelerating its search for technology partners as it races with Tesla Motors, General Motors, Apple, Google and others to develop self-driving vehicles. BMW is full speed ahead in the development process of autonomous driving functions and is currently looking to either build or acquire the necessary knowledge to compete in a very challenging field. At stake is billions in potential profit as value in the auto industry gradually shifts to autonomous taxis.
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“There’s a power play going on with other companies buying up software competencies at a fast clip,” Klaus Froehlich, BMW AG’s head of development said. “We definitely need partners in this area, and we massively need to build out in-house resources too.”
Market research reports say show that robo-taxis will make up 40 percent of automotive profits by 2030, the biggest single source of money to be made, according to consulting company Roland Berger.
The company that manages to offer driverless ride sharing cheaply and first “will dominate this market,” said Froehlich. “It’s a business proposition worth billions in profits that will cost billions to develop.”
BMW’s cooperation with tech companies will probably focus on startups. One example is the minority stake BMW iVentures took in RideCell, its partner for a ride-booking service getting started in Seattle this year.
BMW has also invested in real-time maps technology. BMW, Daimler AG and Volkswagen AG’s Audi bought HERE from Nokia Oyj for 2.8 billion euros and are seeking more partners. The consortium will probably finish adding members by the end of the year, Froehlich said.