LAS VEGAS -- German supplier ZF Friedrichshafen’s push into vehicle manufacturing will intensify as its joint venture for full-electric, connected and automated shuttles starts production of the e.Go Mover this year with the aim of reaching five-digit output numbers in two to three years.
An unspecified number of e.Go Movers will go to Transdev as the France-based mobility provider becomes the first customer for e.Go Moove GmbH, the JV that includes ZF and German startup electric vehicle maker e.Go Mobile.
The partners announced the deal at the CES here on Monday.
ZF said last September that it plans to invest 12 billion euros ($13.6 billion) over the next five years in electric and autonomous vehicle technology. When ZF made the announcement it also revealed plans to develop a battery-powered delivery van that can drive on its own. That project is different from the supplier’s JV for the e.Go Mover.
Ready by 2020
ZF, e.Go Mobile and Transdev want to have the vehicle ready for deployment by 2020 with France and Germany being the initial launch markets.
Transdev will start by having a safety driver in the vehicle, but the goal of the partners is to offer the highest level of autonomous driving allowed, a ZF spokesman said. At Level 4 autonomy, a vehicle can drive itself but still has a steering wheel and pedals so that the driver can take control when needed. At Level 5, the vehicle has no steering wheel or pedals.
ZF will equip the e.Go Mover with electric drive systems, steering systems and brakes as well as the company’s ProAI central computer, which includes artificial intelligence, as well as sensors that enable automated driving functions. The vehicles will be produced by e.Go Mobile in Aachen, Germany.
ZF is also showcasing many of the technologies that will be in Transdev’s vehicle at the CES in a steering wheel- and pedal-free robotaxi concept.
“Automation, electrification and networking are critical enablers as the transport of people and goods continually increase in urban centers. With our extensive systems competence, ZF is enabling and shaping next-generation mobility,” ZF CEO Wolf-Henning Scheider said in a statement, adding that he believes ride-hailing is one of “the biggest drivers behind the development of autonomous driving.”
Transdev will provide the e.Go Mover with its supervision system, connected infrastructure and client application. Yann Leriche, CEO of Transdev North America and head of autonomous transportation systems, said in the release that his company is convinced public transport will be the first-place where real autonomous services will be developed and available to the public.
“This partnership with ZF and e.Go is a great opportunity to enrich our existing mobility solutions with new autonomous vehicles in order to offer the best solutions to our clients,” he added.
Transdev, which says it provides 11 million passenger trips a day, operates in 20 countries. It estimates that it has transported 3.5 million passengers in autonomous shuttles over 1 million miles in countries including the U.S., Canada, France, the Netherlands and Australia.