Posted on

BMW, Mercedes Benz end ‘long term’ automated driving alliance, for now

BMW Group and Mercedes-Benz AG have punted on what was meant to be a long term collaboration to develop next-generation automated driving technology together, less than a year after announcing the agreement.

The German automakers called the break up “mutual and amicable” and have each agreed to concentrate on their existing development paths. Those new paths may include working with new or current partners. The two companies also emphasized that cooperation may be resumed at a later date.

The partnership, which was announced in July 2019, was never meant to be exclusive.  Instead, it reflected the increasingly common approach among legacy manufacturers to form loose development agreements in an aim to share the capitally intensive work of developing, testing and validating automated driving technology.

The two companies did have some lofty goals. The partnership aimed to develop  driver assistance systems, highly automated driving on highways, and automated parking and launch those technology in series vehicles scheduled for 2024.

It seems that the perceived benefits of working together were overshadowed by reality: creating a shared technology platform was a more complex and expensive task than expected, according to comments from the companies. BMW and Mercedes-Benz AG said they were unable to hold detailed expert discussions and talk to suppliers about technology roadmaps until the contract was signed last year.

“In these talks — and after extensive review — both sides concluded that, in view of the expense involved in creating a shared technology platform, as well as current business and economic conditions, the timing is not right for successful implementation of the cooperation,” the companies said.

BMW and Mercedes have other projects and partners. BMW, for instance, is part of a collaboration with Intel, Mobileye, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Ansys. Daimler and Bosch launched a robotaxi pilot project in San Jose last year.

Meanwhile, both companies are still working together in other areas. Five years, BMW and Daimler, the parent company of Mercedes-Benz, joined Audi AG to acquire location and technology platform HERE. That ownership consortium has since grown to include more companies.

And last year, BMW Group and Daimler AG also pooled their mobility services in a joint venture under the umbrella of the NOW family.

Separately, BMW said Friday it will cut 6,000 jobs in an agreement reached with the German Works Council. The cuts, prompted by sluggish sales caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, will be reportedly accomplished through early retirement, non-renewal of temporary contracts, ending redundant positions and not filling vacant positions, Marketwatch reported.

Read More

Posted on

Coronavirus Shock Could Push Europe Into a Downturn

FRANKFURT — So far, only scattered cases of the coronavirus have appeared in Europe, but the economic effects are proving harder to quarantine. The shock may be severe enough to push the vulnerable German economy, and perhaps the entire eurozone, into a recession.

That is the conclusion of a growing number of economists as it becomes clear that it will take weeks, at best, before the Chinese economy resumes its role as a prolific exporter of essential factory goods, and as an increasingly important consumer market for the rest of the world.

“The longer it takes for production to resume, the higher the risks,” said Jörg Krämer, chief economist at Commerzbank in Frankfurt.

For the chief executive of Daimler, one of Germany’s most prominent companies with several auto plants in China, the crisis is one of uncertainty.

“I’m calling China every day,” Ola Källenius said at a news conference in Stuttgart on Tuesday. “It’s too early to say if and how other factories could be affected. We are talking about global networks.”

The rest of the world could also suffer economically, the Federal Reserve chair, Jerome H. Powell, warned lawmakers on Tuesday.

“We are closely monitoring the emergence of the coronavirus, which could lead to disruptions in China that spill over to the rest of the global economy,” Mr. Powell told House Financial Services Committee members.

A dismal profit report by Daimler on Tuesday underlined why it would not take much to shove the eurozone, the 19 European countries that use the euro, into a downturn. That would exacerbate a slump in global trade that was manifesting long before the coronavirus claimed its first victims.

Daimler said that it slipped into the red at the end of 2019, battered by the cost of adjusting to new technology and by penalties from diesel emissions cheating.

Vehicles are Germany’s biggest export, as well as an important part of the national identity. Many economists predict that official data to be published Friday will show that the German economy shrank in the fourth quarter of 2019 because of a slump in manufacturing.

The Coronavirus Outbreak

  • What do you need to know? Start here.

    Updated Feb. 10, 2020

    • What is a Coronavirus?
      It is a novel virus named for the crown-like spikes that protrude from its surface. The coronavirus can infect both animals and people, and can cause a range of respiratory illnesses from the common cold to more dangerous conditions like Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS.
    • How contagious is the virus?
      According to preliminary research, it seems moderately infectious, similar to SARS, and is possibly transmitted through the air. Scientists have estimated that each infected person could spread it to somewhere between 1.5 and 3.5 people without effective containment measures.
    • How worried should I be?
      While the virus is a serious public health concern, the risk to most people outside China remains very low, and seasonal flu is a more immediate threat.
    • Who is working to contain the virus?
      World Health Organization officials have praised China’s aggressive response to the virus by closing transportation, schools and markets. This week, a team of experts from the W.H.O. arrived in Beijing to offer assistance.
    • What if I’m traveling?
      The United States and Australia are temporarily denying entry to noncitizens who recently traveled to China and several airlines have canceled flights.
    • How do I keep myself and others safe?
      Washing your hands frequently is the most important thing you can do, along with staying at home when you’re sick.

fbpx