DEARBORN, Mich. – Ford Motor Company, during its third-quarter earnings media call this week, announced the dissolution of Argo AI, the company it co-owns with Volkswagen to develop autonomous vehicles (AV).
According to the company’s public statement, “In 2017, when Ford invested in Argo AI and autonomous vehicles, the company anticipated being able to bring Level 4 (L4) ADAS (advanced driver-assistance systems) technology broadly to market by 2021.
‘But things have changed, and there’s a huge opportunity right now for Ford to give time – the most valuable commodity in modern life – back to millions of customers while they’re in their vehicles,’ said Jim Farley, Ford chief executive officer. ‘It’s mission-critical for Ford to develop great and differentiated L2+ and L3 applications that at the same time make transportation even safer.
‘We’re optimistic about a future for L4 ADAS, but profitable, fully autonomous vehicles at scale are a long way off and we won’t necessarily have to create that technology ourselves.’”
The statement went on, “Advanced L2+/L3 systems are already providing real customer benefits, powering rapid adoption and expanding our revenue and profit possibilities. Farley said Ford will hire talented engineers from Argo AI as that company is wound down to expand and speed development of those opportunities.
To date, more than 83,000 vehicle owners have enrolled in the Ford BlueCruise and Lincoln ActiveGlide services – and logged more than 21 million hands-free, L2 miles in just over one year since launch. By 2028, the company expects to have more than 30 million connected vehicles on the road around the globe – each of them representing potential new value for customers and annuity-like software-as-a-service revenue for Ford.”
Ford took a $2.7 billion accounting charge to reduce the value of its investment in Pittsburgh-based Argo, and it’s writing off a cash investment of about $500 million. Due largely to the charge, Ford reported a net loss of $827 million from July through September.
Ford said it and Volkswagen would hire many of Argo’s 2,000 employees and some of its offices would remain open.
Ford also said Argo, which it took a stake in five years ago, had been unable to attract more investors.