• Zenuity

Volvo Splitting Self-Driving Joint Venture to Speed Autonomous Development

The new company will develop safe and advanced autonomous drive software.

Evan Williams By: Evan Williams April 7, 2020
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Volvo is making a split with Swedish supplier Veoneer in a move that it says will help speed up Volvo’s development in new autonomous vehicle technology, focusing on bringing it to vehicles more quickly.

Zenuity was the name of the 50-50 joint venture between Volvo Cars and Veoneer, a company that is developing software, hardware, and systems for occupant protection with production and engineering facilities around the globe. As part of the joint venture, Zenuity developed a software platform for advanced driver assistance features, like autonomous braking and steering, as well as autonomous driving systems.

Because Volvo wanted to pursue autonomous driving, and Veoneer wanted to pursue more advanced driver assistance system features, that’s how Zenuity has been split. Veoneer sells its products to multiple automakers, giving it a much larger market for those ADAS, while the new company Volvo will start will get the part of the company that’s working on “unsupervised autonomous drive software.” Think automatic collision-avoidance braking versus a car that drives itself on the highway for the difference between ADAS and autonomous. The split lets the two each focus on their priority targets, meaning that resources aren’t split in an attempt to hit two different goals.

That new Zenuity-developed software is set to be introduced on the next-generation of cars on Volvo’s SPA2 architecture. SPA2 is the platform expected to premiere in 2021 with the next-generation XC90 crossover and form the basis for the Polestar 3 as well. It supports electric powertrains, and we now know Volvo expects it to have some serious autonomous drive tech.

“The new company will develop safe and advanced autonomous drive software,”said Dennis Nobelius, Zenuity’s chief executive. “We believe that in the future there will only be a limited number of global software platforms for autonomous driving. We intend to develop one of these winning platforms.”

Chair, President, and CEO of Veoneer Jan Carlson said that “the split will allow Veoneer to more effectively drive our business strategy. After successfully developing a strong software platform in Zenuity together with Volvo Cars, we are now taking the next steps in the development of collaborative driving and advanced driver assistance systems addressing the total light vehicle market. Veoneer will continue the development of automated driving in time for the broad commercialization of AD technologies”

The new company started by Volvo Cars will take over facilities in Sweden and China, while Veoneer will take over German and US operations. Volvo’s new company will have its own distribution channels, Volvo says, separate from Volvo Cars, meaning that the software could end up in the vehicles of other automakers, not just Volvo, Polestar, and Geely.

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