german AVs
The autonomous vehicle market today is an ever expanding industry with fierce competition across the glob. Several countries are battling for the top position and Germany, the European autonomous driving hub is a forerunner. German OEMs are now providing driving assistance systems in the majority of mass-produced vehicles unlike the US and China who are creating vehicles with partial automated functions.

Why is Germany leading the pack with regards to autonomous vehicle technology? Consumer acceptance is key. This year, 63% of Germans claimed they would use driverless cars if they had an established safety record, compared to 47% in 2017. Another reason is due to Germany’s traditional carmakers. When it comes to fully autonomous driving, a selection of established, well funded car manufacturers adopting this technology creates faster results than countries that have self-driving startups.

Last week we reached a milestone in getting AI-based self-driving systems to be truly autonomous. Daimler and Bosch have received approval from German regulators to run their automated driverless parking function without a human safety driver behind the wheel. This the world’s first fully automated driverless SAE Level 4 parking function to be officially approved for everyday use.

Bosch and Daimler started developing their fully automated driverless parking in 2015. That initial partnership included car2go, the car-sharing unit of Daimler. The companies launched their automated valet parking function in 2017 at the parking garage of the Mercedes-Benz Museum. The following year, and after intensive testing the service was allowed to be tested by users with a human safety driver was always behind the wheel – now, no driver is required. This is a huge step towards fully autonomous vehicles being made a reality and it is happening, right now, in Germany.

Other big players in both the electric and autonomous vehicle arena are Ford and the Volkswagen Group who announced in July that they would be stepping up their global partnership. The VW Group announced a $2.6 billion total investment in ArgoAI, a self-driving-vehicle startup in which Ford in 2017 invested $1 billion. The VW stake brings ArgoAI’s valuation to more than $7 billion.

The German automaker BMW is also committed to creating self-driving technology and has been running autonomous driving tests around the world, with a total of 16,000 kilometers completed in China alone, and aims to complete tests of 200 million km worldwide before putting technologies into series production. BMW is working together with development partners such Intel, Mobileye, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles to leverage each other’s strengths and resources to enhance the platform’s technology and reduce the time taken to bring products to market.

Multimodal Transport Solutions

Multimodal transportation and a centralised method of finding, booking and paying for transport is an emerging market in Germany. Berlin’s public transit system, the Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe (BVG), is aiming to become “the Amazon of transportation.” BVG’s customers can use their new smartphone app to pay for fares on public transit routes, as well as booking rides with private operators such as nextbike bike shares, MILES car shares and emmy electric motorized scooters. Payment is unified but the app generates separate invoices for each service provider.

SIXT SE is another app-based model that is consistently rolling out its integrated mobility offerings. The company not only offers car rental, car sharing and ride hailing in one app, but is now offering short-term rental of e-scooters together with its cooperation from newest partner TIER Mobility. It will be interesting to see what the rest of 2019 has in store for this multimodal transportation trend in European cities such as Germany and the rest of the world.


Acknowledgements: We’d like to thank and credit Augustin Friedel of the Volkswagen Group, for his knowledge and insights on German mobility.