VW CEO says Waymo has autonomous lead, aims to catch up

November 18, 2018 11:46 CET

FRANKFURT — Volkwagen Group is up to two years of development work behind Alphabet’s Waymo in the area of self-driving cars but is committed to catching up, CEO Herbert Diess told a German newspaper.

“We have to admit that Waymo, the Google business, is ahead of us, arguably by one or two years. But we are determined to catch up. The game is not yet lost. A lot depends also on regulation,” Diess was quoted as saying by the Welt am Sonntag.

VW has earmarked almost 44 billion euros ($50 billion) for developing electric cars, autonomous driving and new mobility services by 2023 and will explore further areas of cooperation with Ford.

Waymo plans to launch the world’s first commercial robotaxi service in the U.S. early December, Bloomberg reported earlier this month.

VW is said to be exploring a European partnership with Waymo. Diess wants to spend 12 billion euros for a 10 percent stake in Waymo but lacks the backing from the supervisory board to spend such an amount, Germany’s Manager Magazin said in October.

VW and other automakers are working on mobility services such as car-sharing and robotaxis. VW’s Moia mobility unit is running a test shared-ride service in Hamburg using minibuses with drivers that could become autonomous in the future.

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