Ford ends self-driving truck partnership with Rivian

Ford and start-up Rivian are no longer working together on electric vehicles, a spokesman for the company said Thursday. Last month, Ford and Rivian said they were joining forces on a controversial plan to…

Ford ends self-driving truck partnership with Rivian

Ford and start-up Rivian are no longer working together on electric vehicles, a spokesman for the company said Thursday.

Last month, Ford and Rivian said they were joining forces on a controversial plan to produce a self-driving electric truck. Ford would help design the truck while Rivian would put the self-driving elements in place.

The union was to help Ford catch up with competition in the self-driving industry and catch up to Tesla. But Rivian fired off a cease-and-desist letter last month saying Ford was illegally using the word “rapid” in its press release about the partnership.

Ford responded by calling Rivian’s claims “shameless” and moved forward on developing its own.

“Rivian and Ford have mutually agreed to end our collaboration,” Kevin Kelly, a spokesman for Ford, said Thursday. “We are pursuing our development on our own with a team of 40.”

Rivian and Ford declined to comment on the reasons for ending the partnership.

Related: ICAO rules rule that autonomous vehicles can be safely launched in traffic

Earlier this week, a Federal Appeals Court rejected a request from automakers to block vehicle owners from challenging new regulations that permit self-driving cars.

Automakers have consistently lobbied for new rules that give them more flexibility. Some fear that the rules proposed in 2017 would discourage self-driving cars, which could slow technology’s development.

That fear has intensified since Uber launched a self-driving Uber car program in Arizona. The automaker was forced to temporarily pull its self-driving cars from the road when a pedestrian was killed by one of the vehicles.

A day after the Uber fatality, industry leader Ford announced that it would take a page from Uber and Uber’s competitor Waymo by developing autonomous vehicles itself. Uber and Waymo are separate, autonomous car units from Uber’s parent company and Google’s parent company.

Also this week, Ford made two executive appointments that will accelerate its development of self-driving vehicles.

Senior executives Kevin Flynn and Karl Thiel are leaving the company to join Ford’s autonomous vehicle unit as global chief technical officer and senior vice president of autonomous vehicles and electrification.

Automakers have been trying to develop self-driving vehicles for years. But even after many setbacks in the industry, the widespread release of self-driving cars remains some years away.

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