Delphi automaker invests in first major self-driving car

Delphi will provide engines and autonomous safety technology for the Rivian Car, which will be the first major entry of self-driving technology into mass market vehicles. The carmaker’s CEO, Dan Robinow, said the automaker is making the investment with the goal of speeding adoption of a connected autonomous vehicle, while also expanding the company’s portfolio.

Despite increasing awareness of the company’s autonomous test vehicle, Rivian’s announcement of their partnership with Delphi may have come as a surprise. However, the two companies are already partners with Delphi producing their Intelligent Super Network, a safety network in the first SUV for the company. The technology helps implement crash avoidance features into the vehicles.

“This adds a critical scale to our suite of self-driving hardware, software and technology, allowing us to offer customers one vehicle that is fully capable of driving itself,” said Matt DeBoer, President of Delphi Safety and San Francisco for Delphi.

“Our goal is to make a safe, low cost fully autonomous vehicle, not just a fairly well-reviewed one,” said Robinow. “This larger scale gives us more resources to implement innovations and create the right manufacturing partners, and to accelerate product features and integrations at a faster pace.”

Rivian will be Delphi’s sole supplier of key hardware for the pilot deployment of their vehicle in the 4Q of 2019. This aligns with Rivian’s intention to use Delphi to demonstrate their technology while sharing critical components for future products. Rivian intends to eventually make the Delphi components standard for their platform.

The CEO said Rivian was not interested in bidding for Delphi, but rather wanted to formalize their relationship, build strategic partnerships and push vehicle deployment faster. Delphi’s materials and design capabilities will give Rivian the hardware to make the initial vehicle a success, while its software development expertise, access to its products and multiple facilities will give Rivian more than enough foundation to build an autonomous vehicle.

With Delphi’s increased resources, the team at Rivian will begin building prototypes of their self-driving vehicle that will be ready for testing in less than six months and the company plans to make the vehicle commercially available sometime in 2021. Rivian said they will aim to deploy with over 50,000 vehicles at that time.

“The investment we are making in Rivian signals the direction we are heading for in terms of our growth strategy and overall corporate mission,” said Abhi Talwalkar, Chairman and CEO of Delphi. “Our investments in autonomous vehicle systems and platform will also help us grow our connected vehicle product offerings and service delivery capabilities.”

The addition of Delphi as a significant strategic investor is a smart move for the automaker. Delphi’s standard components and expertise on safety and connected car capabilities may ultimately lead to their technology and Rivian vehicle eventually becoming more competitively priced.

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