June 11, 2019 / 8:16 PM / 8 days ago

End of the road for Volkswagen's self-driving Aurora deal

FILE PHOTO: A car with the Volkswagen VW logo badge is seen on display at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan, U.S., January 16, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

BERLIN (Reuters) - Volkswagen has ended its partnership with self-driving car software firm Aurora, two days after the Silicon Valley start-up said it would build autonomous platforms for commercial vehicles with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.

“The activities under our partnership have been concluded,” a VW spokesman said in a statement on Tuesday following an earlier Financial Times report on the move which said VW now wanted to work with Ford Motor Co on autonomous driving. Ford’s majority-owned subsidiary Argo AI is building an automated “driver” that could compete with Aurora’s technology.

Aurora said Tuesday “Volkswagen Group has been a wonderful partner to Aurora since the early days of development of the Aurora Driver.” The company’s statement added that it continues to work “with a growing array of partners.”

The autonomous vehicle industry is still in its infancy, and alliances and strategies are fluid. Aurora has sought to remain independent and serve a number of would-be autonomous vehicle makers rather than be acquired.

Aurora, which said in February it had raised $530 million (£417 million) in new funding, also has partnerships with Hyundai Motor Co and China’s Byton to develop and test self-driving systems for automakers, fleet owners and others.

After announcing its partnership with Aurora in early 2018, VW last June began discussions with Ford to develop a range of commercial vehicles, later extending the discussions to include electric vehicles and Argo’s autonomous driving technology as part of an alliance designed to save billions in costs. VW and Ford have not announced partnerships involving electric or autonomous vehicle technology.

Reporting by Emma Thomasson; editing by Alexander Smith and Lisa Shumaker

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