Daimler, Volvo announce truck tech partnership

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Volvo Group and Daimler Truck have reached a preliminary agreement to establish a joint venture to develop a common software-defined vehicle platform and dedicated truck operating system, which the companies expect will provide the basis for future software-defined commercial vehicles and make the new joint venture a leading developer of standardized hardware and software. 

This technical basis, the companies said, will then enable Volvo Group and Daimler Truck – 50/50 partners in the joint venture – and potentially other partners to provide "differentiating digital vehicle features for its products, ultimately enhancing customer efficiency and experience." The joint venture is set to be headquartered in Gothenburg, Sweden, incorporating existing assets and resources of both companies into the new organization. The goal, both stakeholders said, is "to set the industry standard for a truck operating system and offer its products to other OEMs as well. To that end the joint venture will provide a common developer platform as a service, on top of which its customers can build differentiating software layers." 

The two commercial truck giants in 2020 established a joint venture to develop hydrogen fuel cells. That joint venture, named cellcentric, included operations in Nabern, Germany, headquarters of the Mercedes-Benz Fuel Cell, with production facilities in Germany and Canada.

"Given the rapid transformation of our industry, it makes sense to collaborate to accelerate development, increase volumes and share cost. Software-defined heavy-duty trucks represent a paradigm shift in the transformation of our industry," said Martin Lundstedt, Volvo Group president and CEO. "Making the truck a programmable device with standardized hardware and operating system for fast product updates will give both companies the opportunity to create value for our customers and their customers though differentiating digital services and solutions. Partnership is truly the new leadership."

The Volvo Group and Daimler Truck venture will operate as an independent entity, with the two continuing to be competitors in all other areas of business.

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"Just as important as the transformation towards CO2-neutral, drive technologies is the digitalization in the vehicle," said Martin Daum, CEO of Daimler Truck. "Developing a common software-defined vehicle platform with Volvo Group will enable us to turn our vehicles into a programmable device. It will allow us to build differentiating digital vehicle features with significantly greater speed and efficiency for our truck and bus customers around the globe. Together with the Volvo Group we can develop a benchmark truck operating system and set an industry standard." 

Volvo Group and Daimler Truck therefore will remain fierce competitors and continue to differentiate their complete product and services offerings, including their respective digital solutions. Both companies will provide their own end-user applications on top of the platform to offer differentiating digital vehicle features to their respective customers.

The now signed preliminary agreement is non-binding. A final agreement is expected within this year, with the goal to close the final transaction in Q1 2025, subject to necessary examination and approvals by the respective authorities.

Jason Cannon has written about trucking and transportation for more than a decade and serves as Chief Editor of Commercial Carrier Journal. A Class A CDL holder, Jason is a graduate of the Porsche Sport Driving School, an honorary Duckmaster at The Peabody in Memphis, Tennessee, and a purple belt in Brazilian jiu jitsu. Reach him at [email protected].