BMW and Daimler reportedly in talks over subcompact, self-driving car partnership

2018 Mercedes-Benz A-Class hatchback and 2018 BMW i3

Mercedes-Benz parent company Daimler is already partnered with BMW Group in the area of mobility, with the two German auto giants last month having received regulatory approval to merge their various mobility divisions into a single joint-venture company.

Now the two are reportedly in talks over partnering in the area of self-driving cars, which on the surface appears like a natural extension of the mobility merger deal.

Citing sources at Daimler and BMW Group, Handelsblatt reported Monday that the two firms are examining the possibility of extensive alliances, including in the areas of self-driving cars, electric mobility and potentially even platform sharing. There are rumors that next-generation subcompact cars from the Mercedes and BMW brands could ride on a common platform. That would mean the next generations of the A-class and 1-Series could ride a common platform.

But self-driving cars are said to be at the forefront of the discussions. Handelsblatt reported that Daimler and BMW Group could look to share costs for self-driving car development as well as establish common standards for the industry. The two could also share patents to help catch up with rivals, primarily Waymo which is the current leader in self-driving technology. The Alphabet Inc. division is already running an automated ride-hail service on a trial basis in parts of Phoenix, Arizona.

The cost of developing self-driving cars, together with electric mobility, has seen a number of partnerships already emerge. Only last week Ford and Volkswagen Group announced a partnership in the area of commercial vehicles. The two are also thought to be discussing self-driving and EV technologies. Meanwhile, Honda is committed to investing billions in General Motors’ Cruise self-driving division, while a handful of automakers have tapped American startup Aurora Innovation to source self-driving technology.

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