Ford Motor intends to spend a staggering $4 billion by 2023 in a newly built LLC devoted to creating self-driving cars business.
The automaker revealed recently that it had established Ford Autonomous Vehicles LLC, which will hold the company’s autonomous systems integration, user experience, business development teams, AV transportation-as-a-service network development, business strategy, as well as autonomous-vehicle research and advanced engineering.
What’s more, the $4 billion plan comprises a $1 billion investment amount into ArgoAI.
The new LLC will be mainly located at Ford’s Corktown campus, which is based in Detroit.
The company will hold Ford’s ownership shares in Argo AI, which is its Pittsburg-based partner as far as the development of self-driving systems is concerned.
Ford’s recent undertaking will see Sherif Marakby, the current head of the company’s autonomous cars and electrification division, assume the CEO position at Ford Autonomous Vehicles LLC.
In his newly appointed capacity, Sherif will report directly to a board of directors that will be chaired by Marcy Klevorn, the company’s executive VP and president of mobility.
Argo AI is a startup that was established by Bryan Salesky and Peter Rander, who is a former expert involved in Google’s self-driving project while the latter was the engineering head at the Uber Advanced Technologies Group.
Ford’s investment in the company has been public since its first announcement back in February 2017. However, the aggregate spend of $4 billion is yet to be made public.
Both the investment amount and Ford’s decision to build a new company committed to all aspects of autonomous vehicles offer some hints pertaining to the car manufacturer’s ultimate ambitions.
Ford’s project relating to self-driving cars was spread out throughout the carmaker, mainly from product development and research units to both planning and marketing organizations.
The decision by Ford to combine all the different pieces together is an indication that the company is transforming from research and testing to a self-driving car business.
In essence, the carmaker sees the autonomous vehicle project as a road towards commercial deployment.
Jim Hackett, the chief executive officer of Ford, said that the automaker has made an impressive step forward across its autonomous value chain, mainly from technology development to business model innovation and ultimately to user experience.
He went on to say that now was the ideal time for the company to bring together its self-driving platform into a single team in a bid to best position the enterprise for future opportunities.
Earlier this year in June, Ford outlined a plan to spend the upcoming four years of its existence changing almost 1.2 million square feet of space in Corktown, which is the oldest neighborhood in Detroit, into a hub characterized by both its autonomous and electric car businesses.
In the new Corktown-based campus, Ford intends to host about 2,500 Ford employees by 2022, most of who will be drawn from the company’s rising mobility team.
The new campus will be in a position to accommodate 2,500 more employees belonging to both partners and other enterprises.
Furthermore, the unutilized 300,000 square feet will act as a combination of residential housing as well as community and retail space.