BMW to be the first major automaker in the future of autonomous vehicles

BMW AG is teaming up with chipmaker Intel Corp. and camera-software company Mobileye NV to bring self-driving cars to the road by 2021, becoming the first major automaker to set a specific date to produce a fully autonomous vehicle.

The technology will be used in theiNext, set to supplant the 7-Series sedan as BMW’s flagship model, the company said Friday. The iNext will be a basis for “fleets of fully autonomous vehicles” to cruise highways and eventually also be available as robo-taxis in cities, BMW said. The platform will be open for other carmakers and technology companies to use.

“Given the players involved, this will likely become the industry standard,” Arndt Ellinghorst, a London-based analyst for Evercore ISI, wrote in an e-mail. “Today could be transformational for individual mobility. Mark your calendar.”

The biggest luxury carmaker setting a date for its self-driving debut will put pressure on rivals including Tesla Motors Inc. and Mercedes-Benz, as manufacturers strive to fend off competition not only within the industry but also from the likes of Uber Technologies Inc. and Google. Robo-taxis will make up 40% of automotive profits by 2030, more than selling vehicles to individuals, according to consulting company Roland Berger.

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