Volvo invests in autonomous sensors as it sets ambitious sales targets

10 July 2018

Volvo invests in autonomous sensors as it sets ambitious sales targets

10 July 2018

Volvo has said that driverless vehicles will make up a third of its deliveries by the middle of the next decade, setting itself an ambitious target.

The Swedish carmaker, which is owned by Chinese manufacturer Geely, expects to generate half of its annual sales from electric vehicles (EVs), with sales of all vehicles coming through a subscription service. It expects these initiatives to build on its five million consumer relationships.

In order to facilitate the move into autonomous vehicles, which are still in their infancy and under continuous development, Volvo has completed the first strategic investment via its newly founded investment fund by taking a stake in Luminar, a start-up in the development of advanced sensor technology for use in autonomous vehicles.

The investment in the company, based in California and Florida, deepens Volvo Cars’ existing collaboration with the firm, which currently focuses on development and testing of its sensing technology on Volvo cars. LiDAR technology, which uses pulsed laser signals to detect objects, is a crucial element of creating safe autonomous vehicles.

‘LiDAR is a key technology for enabling autonomous cars to navigate safely in complex traffic environments and at higher speeds,’ said Henrik Green, Senior Vice President for Research and Development at Volvo Cars. ‘Our collaboration with Luminar allows us to learn more about its promising technologies and takes Volvo Cars one step further to the highly autonomous cars of the future.’

‘Volvo is at the forefront of autonomous vehicle development, and their safety-centric approach to autonomy is directly aligned with our sensing capabilities,’ said Luminar founder and CEO Austin Russell. ‘Our LiDAR is the first to deliver the necessary performance to enable safe and reliable long-range perception, which is required to unlock their goals of autonomy at highway speeds.’

With consumer ownership habits changing and carsharing schemes becoming more popular. Volvo has stated an aim to match profit margins of other luxury vehicle manufacturers by targeting robotaxi suppliers. The company already has a deal with Uber to supply vehicles for its autonomous vehicle testing.

Our customers’ expectations are changing rapidly. This means that Volvo Cars is also changing rapidly. These initiatives will help transform Volvo from being purely a car company to being a direct consumer services provider,’ said Hakan Samuelsson, President and Chief Executive of Volvo Cars.

While several automakers have included robotaxis in their planned future lineups, Volvo is the first prominent global automaker to set a target for deliveries. Volvo was also the first carmaker to announce it was dropping traditional petrol and diesel engines from its vehicle line up from 2019.