One of the most critical components of Ford and Volkswagen’s partnership involves the latter’s $2.6 billion investment in Ford-backed Argo AI, an autonomous vehicle technology company. Now, we’re seeing the fruit of this investment for the first, time, as the automaker announced today that a self-driving Volkswagen ID.Buzz is on the way, with a launch planned in 2025.
The Volkswagen ID.Buzz was first revealed way back in 2017 at the Detroit Auto Show and has long been planned for production. However, the self-driving version of the retro-styled van is designed for the commercial market, as is the case with Ford’s planned commercial autonomous vehicles service, albeit for the European market.
“Our aim with the self-driving version of the ID.Buzz is to facilitate commercial deployment of transport and delivery services starting in 2025,” said Christian Senger, head of autonomous driving at VW’s van unit.
The ID.Buzz will be built at Volkswagen’s Hannover, Germany plant, and is expected to be available in both short- and long-wheelbase models, with up to three different battery sizes.
Volkswagen also announced that it will begin testing its self-driving ID.Buzz in Munich, Germany, this coming summer. The van will offer Level 4 autonomy – which means that a driver is not required to be behind the wheel, but it can only operate within a defined route or geofenced area – an artificial spatial boundary.
Argo AI has made significant progress through its testing efforts with Ford in recent months, recently revealing its potentially game-changing lidar sensor that can “see” up to 400 meters ahead in all sorts of lighting and weather conditions. Additionally, the company could potentially go public this year as it seeks to boost funding ahead of next year’s launch of its autonomous commercial vehicles service.