Suppliers step up plans for AVs, sensors, new business models

German supplier ZF Group unveiled its next-generation autonomous shuttle, a move that signals it remains confident in the role self-driving technology can play — even as other auto companies, including the Ford and VW-backed self-driving startup Argo AI, scale back their ambitions.

ZF aims to deploy “several thousand” shuttles in the U.S. in the coming years, partnering with the Florida autonomous shuttle operator Beep to help bring the vehicle to market. The shuttle is designed for use on city roads, with options for battery capacity of 50 or 100 kilowatt-hours, providing 80 miles of electric battery range. The shuttles can fit up to 22 people.

ZF, which has invested significantly in autonomous shuttle services in recent years, says such a shuttle can be “an essential contribution” to hit sustainability targets, said Torsten Gollewski, head of ZF’s autonomous mobility solutions.

“Today in cities all over the world, we see a mobility approach that simply doesn’t work anymore,” he said. “There’s simply too little space, too much pollution, a high stress level, traffic which seems to collapse under the sheer mass of vehicles, and a lack of drivers for transportation.”

ZF, the world’s third-largest parts supplier, is betting that shuttles will help move people more efficiently, serving as either a complement to existing mass transit or as a cheaper alternative.



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