Volvo will form infotainment JV with Chinese tech company

Volvo Cars will set up a joint venture to accelerate its development of a new, scalable infotainment platform that can be shared with sister brands such as Polestar and Geely Auto as well as third parties.

The automaker will partner with Chinese technology company ECARX, which was co-founded in 2016 by Volvo-owner Li Shufu. ECARX currently develops and integrates Android-based infotainment systems in China for Volvo’s sister brands Geely Auto, Lynk & CO and Proton.

The venture’s other goals include improving cost efficiency, creating new revenue streams as well as luring talented software executives.

One of Volvo Chief Technology Officer Henrik Green’s long-term goals is to turn the automaker’s R&D arm into a software development company.

“This is definitely a cornerstone in our strategic transformation to boost our vertical integration to become a software company,” Green told Automotive News Europe in an interview. This will be Volvo’s answer to Volkswagen Group’s Car.Software.Org, which employs about 5,000 and develops the VW.OS operating system.

The formation of the new, as-yet-unnamed company is still subject to final negotiations between Volvo and ECARX. Volvo will have a 60 percent stake while ECARX will control the rest.

Barring any delays, the partners will start operations at the new company’s headquarters in Gothenburg, Sweden, in the third quarter, with a staff of about 100 people.

That total will include about 70 Android, Linux and UNX software developers who will transfer from Volvo, said Jan-Erik Larsson, a longtime Volvo executive who has been tapped to be chief executive of the new company.

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