Herndon, Va. / Austin, Texas — Volkswagen Group of America, Inc. (VWGoA) is starting its first autonomous vehicle test program in Austin beginning in July 2023. The company will kick off its program with a batch of 10 all-electric ID. Buzz vehicles outfitted with an autonomous driving (AD) technology platform developed by the global Volkswagen Group in partnership with technology company Mobileye. Over the next three years, VWGoA plans to grow its test fleet in Austin and also progressively expand testing operations to at least four more American cities. Building upon investments throughout this initial pilot, VWGoA anticipates a commercial launch of autonomous driving vehicles in Austin by 2026.
“We are thrilled to bring our exciting ID. Buzz vehicles to American roads”, said Pablo Di Si, President and CEO, Volkswagen Group of America. “Expanding Volkswagen Group’s global autonomous driving vehicle program to the United States marks an important milestone for us. In the future, we will tap into rising demand for new mobility services, and with our iconic ID. Buzz, we will also offer a truly captivating product to support transportation services American consumers can rely upon and trust.”
The start of VWGoA’s test program in the U.S. marks a further push for Volkswagen Group’s global autonomous driving vehicle research and development. VWGoA will lead the strategy and business development in the U.S., and has established a subsidiary named Volkswagen ADMT, LLC1 to support the rollout of its autonomous driving vehicle program, with teams in Belmont, Calif. and Austin, Texas. The company plans to also employ team members who worked with Argo AI.
For the test fleet, VWGoA plans to leverage autonomous driving (AD) technology and ID. Buzz vehicles provided by the Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles brand in Germany.
In the future, VWGoA aims to offer fleets of specially designed ID. Buzz AD vehicles as a comprehensive service including fleet management and remote guidance solutions to other leading companies in the mobility and transportation space, and establish long-term partnerships. VWGoA is not building a dedicated ride hailing or ride sharing service on its own at this time.
“Expanding our autonomous vehicle program to the North American Region is the next step in our global strategic roadmap, and the result of a long-term collaborative investment”, said Christian Senger, Member of the board of management of Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles with responsibility for the development of autonomous driving. “Moving into this next phase will help us test, validate and refine technology, bring us closer to establishing commercially available transportation offerings and eventually grow the diverse mobility portfolio for the Volkswagen Group.”
In Austin, VWGoA will use its growing test fleet of ID. Buzz AD vehicles to collect data through driven miles across a diversity of driving scenarios. Each of the initial SAE L4 ID. Buzz vehicles is outfitted with an autonomous driving technology platform developed by the global Volkswagen Group in partnership with Mobileye, which includes cameras, radar, and lidar technology. All vehicles will be staffed with supervising human drivers at all times throughout this initial test phase.
“We are excited and ready to roll out our autonomous pilot and test fleet in Austin”, said Katrin Lohmann, President, Volkswagen ADMT, LLC. “We selected Austin as the first U.S. hub, as the city has a track record for embracing innovation and offers a conducive climate for the testing of autonomous vehicles. We are committed to continuing an open and collaborative dialogue with the city and its diverse stakeholders.”
1) Volkswagen ADMT, LLC: ADMT stands for Autonomous Driving Mobility & Transport