In an effort to accelerate production of the first self-driving cars, major car manufacturers are beginning to negotiate mergers and partnerships with suppliers as well as tech companies.
BMW and Daimler, the world's top luxury carmakers, have announced alliances with suppliers, talking up the virtues of having a bigger pool of engineers to develop a self-driving car.
But another motive behind these deals, executives and industry experts told Reuters, is a concern that robocars may not live up to the profit expectations that drove an initial investment rush.
Carmakers are increasingly looking to forego outright ownership of future autonomous driving systems in favor of spreading the investment burden and risk.
The trend represents a clear shift in strategy from little more than a year ago when most automakers were pursuing standalone strategies focussed on tackling the engineering challenge of developing a self-driving car, rather than on the business case.
"Although it is a substantial market, it may not be worth the scale of investments currently being sunk into it," said a board member at one of the German carmakers, who declined to be identified because the matter is confidential.
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