In nearly the same breath, Volkswagen has said that it will amplify its partnership with tech giant Microsoft and that it is not afraid of a planned Apple self-driving electric car.
That’s a lot to take in, though the two announcements are largely unrelated.
VW says it will use the Microsoft Azure Edge cloud services to handle the massive amount of data related to its self-driving car platform. Last year, VW consolidated its driver-assistance tech into a new subsidiary called Car.Software, which has partnered with Microsoft for cloud hosting and software engineering expertise.
Separately, VW’s CEO brushed off concerns about the long-rumored Apple self-driving car, which is expected to be electric.
“The car industry is not a typical tech sector that you could take over at a single stroke,” VW CEO Herbert Diess said in an interview with German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. “Apple will not manage that overnight.”
That skepticism is not unlike that espoused by automotive executives when Tesla first released its Model S electric sedan nearly a decade ago. In that time, Tesla has emerged as the dominant electric car builder and one of the largest luxury brands having recently overtaken VW subsidiary Audi in new-vehicle registrations.
Still, VW has reason to brush off Apple. VW sold nearly a quarter of a million electric cars worldwide last year, more than double what it sold the year prior and without a dedicated electric model for the American market. The first electric VW without a gas or diesel sibling, the ID.4, goes on sale in late 2021.
Apple has been notoriously tight-lipped about its first-ever car plans. Rumors in early 2021 suggested that Hyundai and Kia were working with Apple, but the Korean automakers have said that there are no longer any discussions between the two.