BERLIN – Daimler and BMW, two of the world’s biggest manufacturers of high-end vehicles, are expected to unveil plans to expand existing cooperation to include the development of self-driving vehicle technology, a move that underscores how heightened competition is pushing longtime rivals to work more closely together.
The companies are expected to announce they will jointly develop self-driving-vehicle technology for highway driving and self-parking applications, key features that are expected to be high in demand by the premium car makers’ well-heeled customers, people familiar with the situation said.
BMW confirmed the news and Daimler didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
The technology and products that BMW and Daimler develop together will be used in vehicles that are to be sold in the US, the European Union, and China, the people said. It wasn’t immediately clear how much the two companies planned to invest in the venture.
The news of their expanded cooperation comes less than a week after BMW and Daimler released the details of their plans to merge their car-sharing services, including the investment of 1 billion euros ($1.14 billion) to create a new shared mobility company called Free Now.
Daimler and BMW have cooperated in a number of areas in the past, including some manufacturing and development. But since 2015, when the two companies teamed up with Volkswagen’s Audi luxury unit to purchase HERE Technologies, the digital-mapping service, from Nokia, the two premium car makers have looked for additional ways to share the huge costs of new technology for self-driving vehicles and mobility services such as car-sharing and ride-hailing.
The enhanced cooperation comes at a time when the entire automotive industry is going through a fundamental transition, driven by the growing importance of software in the car and the emergence of tech giants such as Alphabet Inc.’s Google, Apple, and newcomers such as Uber Technology.