MUNICH (Reuters) - Volkswagen’s (VOWG_p.DE) truck division will spend about half a billion euros ($569 million) by the end of the decade to improve automated connectivity of heavy-goods vehicles, it said on Monday.
MAN, part of VW’s trucks division, used an event in Munich to demonstrate the feasibility of truck “platooning”, in which a human-driven truck is followed in convoy by semi-automated trucks.
German rival Daimler has been at the forefront of truckmakers’ push into self-driving heavy-goods vehicles, citing improvements in driver safety and fuel efficiency.
Volkswagen (VW), which started to beef up its truck operations before its emissions scandal broke last September, is pushing automized features and new mobility technologies as part of efforts to reposition itself and overcome the scandal.
MAN has said platooning could help reduce diesel consumption and carbon dioxide emissions in road freight transport by as much as 10 percent.
VW’s Truck & Bus group said it would spend a “mid-range three-digit million-euro amount” over the next five years on automated features as it aims to improve communication of on-board sensors with automatic braking and other systems.
“The future truck is fully connected, that provides a gain in safety and efficiency,” VW trucks’ chief Andreas Renschler said at the Munich event.
However, investment in infrastructure is needed to keep pace for some of the new technology to work.
“In future it will no longer be enough to build roads and repair bridges,” said Renschler. “What we need as quickly as possible is mobile high-speed Internet alongside the road.”
Separately, Renschler told reporters in Munich that MAN was on target to reap the benefits from 2017 of a restructuring course that began last year.
MAN is cutting 1,800 jobs at its main truck operations and reshuffling production in Germany, Austria and Poland to achieve several hundred millions of euros of cost savings by next year.
MAN “is fully on target, perhaps even slightly ahead” of its goals, said Renschler, a former Daimler executive, without elaborating.
Reporting by Andreas Cremer; Additional reporting by Irene Preisinger; Editing by Susan Fenton