Volvo Cars Sets New Goal for Robo-Taxis in Biggest Industry Bet

(Bloomberg) -- Volvo Cars is betting driverless vehicles will make up one-third of its deliveries by the middle of the next decade, setting the auto industry’s most ambitious target yet for the new technology.

Half of the cars the Swedish company offers will be available through its subscription service, creating links to more than 5 million consumers and generating new sources of revenue, Volvo said Thursday in a business strategy update. It reiterated a target to match other luxury-auto makers’ profit margins, saying sales growth will be propelled in part by demand from robo-taxi operators.

“These initiatives will help transform Volvo from being purely a car company to being a direct consumer-services provider,” Chief Executive Officer Hakan Samuelsson said in the statement. The carmaker was formerly the auto unit of truck manufacturer Volvo AB and is now owned by Chinese billionaire Li Shufu’s Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co.

Driverless vehicles are still in an early phase of development, and test programs have been hampered by a string of fatal accidents. Even so, tech companies and established car manufacturers, such as Alphabet Inc.’s Waymo and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV, are joining forces, and the U.K. announced a strategy this week to back projects. While several automakers have included robo-taxis in their planned future line-ups, Volvo Cars is the first prominent global brand to set a target for deliveries. Its sales rose 7 percent last year to 571,577 vehicles.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.