The Volkswagen Group and its US partner Ford are withdrawing from the joint project involving robot cars at the software company Argo AI. Volkswagen will no longer invest in Argo, the Wolfsburg surprisingly announced on Wednesday evening. The US automaker Ford is going out of business directly and booked a write-down of 2.7 billion dollars, as it announced on Wednesday after the US stock market closed. This charge resulted in a net loss of $827 million in the third quarter.
The two partners previously each held 40 percent of Argo and agreed in 2019 on a broad-based joint development of the technology. VW intends to present a new partner for its robot taxis previously planned with Argo, which are still to be launched via the mobility subsidiary Moia in Hamburg in 2025. However, the company has not yet named it.
The development of technology for autonomous driving is expensive and also considered risky because the chances of success, including possible future profits, are unclear. With Ford's exit, Argo as a company should be history. According to US media reports, workers were informed on Wednesday that the Pittsburgh-based company would be closed. Volkswagen wants to offer employees to change positions.
Volkswagen entered the then Ford subsidiary in 2019 with an investment of over 2.6 billion US dollars. The investment was decided as part of a broader alliance with great ambitions. In addition to a billion dollars in funds, VW had also brought in its own subsidiary AID. By 2022, VW Ford was also supposed to buy further shares worth around 500 million dollars, that was the plan at the time.
With the end of the joint project with Ford, VW has to cope with another sensitive damper on its software ambitions. The group recently had to deal with problems at its group-owned software subsidiary Cariad, which is equipped with billions. There were delays in new software generations, which also resulted in the delayed launch of new car models.
The software problems are also considered a reason why ex-boss Herbert Diess had to resign. The end of the cooperation with Argo does not affect Ford's use of VW's own modular electric car system MEB. The cooperation between the car companies is based at the subsidiary VW Commercial Vehicles in Hanover, where vans are also jointly developed.