If there’s one thing that automakers have learned about self-driving vehicles, it’s that they can’t develop them by themselves. Traditional carmakers lack the digital wizardry required to prevent their beautifully designed hardware from crashing into lampposts while tech firms lack the knowledge to put together a decent drivetrain. So it’s no surprise that partnerships are the current watchword in autonomous driving, especially among producers of car parts.
The latest such tie-up is between German part maker ZF Friedrichshafen and its French rival Faurecia. What would have been unthinkable for the manufacturers until recently is the new normal: An exchange of technological know-how, without any exchange of capital, in this case to create the “cockpit of the future” for autonomous vehicles. Germany’s third-largest auto parts maker, which completed its $12.4 billion takeover of U.S. rival TRW in 2015, will deliver the airbag and seatbelt systems, while Faurecia will concentrate on interior design.
The partnership on the so-called “ecosystem” was announced in May but reaffirmed by ZF CEO Stefan Sommer and his counterpart at Faurecia, Patrick Koller, at this week’s Handelsblatt automotive summit in Stuttgart.