- a self-driving prototype of vw's i.d. buzz will become a public-transit option in doha, the capital of qatar.
- the service is expected to reach the public starting in 2022, the same year that qatar is hosting the world cup.
- this is the latest example of vw ramping up its self-driving and electrification efforts.
the latter half of this year has seen a torrent of electrification and self-driving news coming out of the volkswagen camp as the german automaker ramps up its efforts on both fronts. and now, a combination of the two: volkswagen is working with the qatar investment authority to bring a self-driving electric shuttle system to doha, qatar's capital, by 2022 to supplement public transit in the city.
the pilot will feature i.d. buzz vans as well as buses from scania—one of four vw brands collaborating on the project. there will be 35 buses, with each i.d. buzz expected to accommodate four passengers, while 10 scania buses will handle larger groups. the other vw brands working on the project include volkswagen commercial vehicles, moia (a ride-sharing company), and autonomous intelligent driving (aid), the latter two of which will work on the software for the endeavor.
the shuttle vehicles will start closed testing next year using i.d. buzz prototypes, since the electric-powered van won't go into production until 2022, then trial runs will begin in 2021. the all-electric self-driving transporters are expected to start operating in 2022, the same year that the world cup is coming to qatar, and the vehicles will run on semi-fixed routes in the westbay area of doha, an area along the water just north of the city center.
volkswagen has announced that it will be spending $66 billion over the next five years on electrification and new digital technology. the auto manufacturer plans to introduce 75 electric vehicles across its brands by 2029, kicking that off with a lineup under the id name, the first of which is the id.3 hatchback. the id.3 won't be sold in the u.s. but will reach european markets starting next year. an electric crossover, the i.d. crozz, will be sold in the u.s. starting next year. and last month at the los angeles auto show, vw unveiled the i.d. space vizzion concept, which is planned to reach the u.s. in 2022, the same year the i.d. buzz should reach our shores.
volkswagen has been equally ambitious in pursuing autonomous technology. in july, vw and ford expanded their partnership with vw investing $2.6 billion into argo ai, an pittsburgh autonomous vehicle startup backed by ford, after it ended its partnership with amazon-backed aurora, another self-driving startup. then in october, vw started a stand-alone self-driving brand, volkswagen autonomy, or vwat, which it claims will be among the "best-funded" startups in the world.