BMW’s head of development, Klaus Froehlich, confirmed in a recent interview that the company is preparing for the future by actively pursuing autonomous cars and ride sharing opportunities. BMW intends to partner with tech companies, acquire start-ups, and hire top gurus to make the best automotive “brain”. Froehlich assured:
“We have a large number of parties expressing interest.”
Froehlich said that billions of dollars is waiting for the taking in the shifting industry of autonomous taxis. He believes that the company that figures out driverless ride sharing quickest and cost effectively “will dominate this market”. For this to happen, the upcoming levels of autonomy will need to better process information, more like the human brain.
BMW, like other European luxury automakers, has proven itself as a company based around performance vehicles. However, the company realizes now that it must create a presence in providing transport, to stay in the game for the future. Froehlich admitted:
“There’s a power play going on with other companies buying up software competencies at a fast clip. We definitely need partners in this area, and we massively need to build out in-house resources too.”
Consulting company Roland Berger forecasts that “robo-taxis” will comprise 40 percent of auto profits by 2030. Uber is currently valued at $62.5 billion. This has already surpassed BMW’s net worth of $51 billion, and Uber is a new company. BMW, founded 100 years ago, makes over two million cars a year, and employs about 122,000 people throughout the world.
BMW iVentures, a venture capital company for future mobility, has already taken a stake in a Seattle-based ride sharing company, RideCell. The company also acquired HERE (real-time maps) from Nokia, with the help of Daimler and Audi. This consortium is still planning to add more members including companies versed in cloud-based services, consumer electronics, logistics, and analytical skills.