VW: Data to be key issue for future of self-driving cars

Chip shortage also continues to be an issue, slowing new car sales in Germany

Data that are crucial for the safety of self-driving cars, and the way they are handled, will be important issues that the technology will have to deal with at some point down the line, predicted Volkswagen Group chief executive Herbert Diess.

"However, much work is still needed before such cars become widely available," he told dpa and dpa-AFX news agencies.

Diess's opinion comes at a time when VW is considering a ramp-up of electric mobility and digitisation in order to win market share in the United States - a key market for the German carmaker. In Germany, the government plans to test self-driving cars "in regular operation" in projects from 2022.

Volkswagen's strategy includes implementing the technology in the medium term.

"By 2030, we expect to see fleet operations and also private cars driving autonomously for stretches," Diess said.

He said there would likely be setbacks, but the date is still just eight or nine years away.

"There are very large development resources going into it worldwide." The project rests on using artificial intelligence (AI) to perceive different driving situations. Diess said the technology was progressing very quickly at the moment.

"But the safety hurdles are also significant," he noted.

The use of vehicle data is also becoming an increasingly important issue. Networking drivers, carmakers and service providers means addressing different values, he said.

"In China, data is considered a common good, available for the people's good. In America, data is predominantly seen as an economic good, is not public, but remains with the companies, with Google, with Apple, in order to serve the business model there. And in Europe, we have a very strong focus on the user's data sovereignty."

Meanwhile, a recent study from Germany's Center for Automotive Research said that the market for new cars will remain sluggish also due to the shortage of semiconductors.T

"hat means car dealers and carmakers have little reason to offer incentives," said Ferdinand Dudenhoeffer from the Center for Automotive Research. 

"The German car market is suffering from the semiconductor crisis and new car buyers are stuck with long delivery times and higher net prices," outlined Ferdinand Dudenhoeffer from the Center for Automotive Research. 

Discounts offered on internet platforms for personalised new cars fell in July compared to the previous month, the institute reported. Car subscriptions offered also fell, a relatively new distribution model where customers rent their car for a few months, including insurance.

"The situation for people looking to buy new cars is not likely to improve for another nine to 12 months," Dudenhoeffer said.

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