VW Snubs Silicon Valley For China as AV Hub

VW Snubs Silicon Valley For China as AV Hub

A wealth of software talent has led Volkswagen to choose China as a global hub for autonomous vehicle software development.

Company executives say the decision reflects an abundance of highly qualified software engineers not available elsewhere, including in the US. In what some observers may see as a snub to Silicon Valley, Chinese suppliers will now help VW develop AV software for its global customers. The executives revealed the plan ahead of the Shanghai Auto Show.

On top of the pool of highly qualified labor, the decision was also influenced by the Chinese authorities’ eagerness to build new infrastructure for connected and autonomous vehicles aiding widespread acceptance of the technologies. VW China CEO Stephan Woellenstein told Reuters that aspects of the automaker’s AV software development could be carried out “in Chinese facilities out of VW Group China”.

He claimed the country’s existing 4,000 Chinese software engineers would shortly “be able to do 15 to 20 million lines of programming code on an annual basis”, adding that VW was reviewing how its joint ventures with FAW, SAIC, and JAC could be restructured to accelerate AV tech development.

VW China executive vice-president of research and development Sven Patuschka said the country would also serve as a development hub for connected vehicle tech. He said: “We will further strengthen our capabilities to develop in China for China and for certain technologies for the rest of the world. We find excellent talents here and are ready address customer requirements in this fascinating market.”

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