Volkswagen Group China and Mobvoi, a Chinese artificial intelligence (AI) tech company, have entered a ‘strategic partnership to develop and implement AI technologies in cars’.
Top executives from the two companies have signed a contract for a 50:50 joint venture between Volkswagen China Investment Co., Ltd. (VCIC) and Mobvoi Inc. targeting the automotive market. With this transaction Volkswagen Group committed an overall investment of USD180m into the joint venture.
The new joint venture will develop and apply AI technologies to the automotive industry. Utilising Mobvoi’s voice recognition, natural language processing technologies, vertical search and proactive search, together with Volkswagen’s position as an automotive and mobility player, the joint venture will ‘continue to explore and provide the answer to the future of smart mobility’.
Prof. Dr. Jochem Heizmann, Member of the Board of Management of Volkswagen Aktiengesellschaft as well as President and CEO of Volkswagen Group China, said: “This partnership is a particular example of Volkswagen’s determination to work with groundbreaking Chinese tech companies like Mobvoi. We are impressed by Mobvoi’s innovative approach of AI technology, and we are pleased to form this joint venture to explore the next generation of smart mobility. With the new joint venture we promote people oriented mobility for our customers in China, along with the potential to be adopted globally.”
Mobvoi Inc. Founder & Chief Executive Officer Zhifei Li said: “We are very honoured to form this strategic partnership with Volkswagen Group, the world’s automotive giant who always values new technologies and never stops pioneering in future mobility experience. Mobvoi’s mission has always been re-defining the next generation human-machine interaction and this joint venture will provide us a new platform to do so together with Volkswagen Group. Mobvoi will keep developing cutting edge AI technologies and look forward to bringing car owners the unparalleled user experience.”
VW said the partnership provide its customers in China with the convenience of AI technology, a key component for the development of autonomous driving and to make daily use of a car even more convenient and to foster the accessibility of mobility for more and more people.
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The new joint venture will develop products for a wide range of Volkswagen Group models as well as other brands. Initial products will include Mobvoi’s existing smart rearview mirror, which provides navigation, POI (points of interest) search, instant messaging, and on-board infotainment via voice input. In addition to Volkswagen Group models, the joint venture partners believe the technologies will be highly attractive throughout the automotive industry and are open to developing products for other brands.
Mobvoi is a start-up backed by Google and founded in 2012 by a group of former Googlers. Last year, Mobvoi became an official partner to Google’s Android Wear software. Its voice-search services are embedded in Google’s operating system for wearable devices.