Ford Motor is higher by 0.4% at $12.56 a share on Monday morning after announcing late Friday that it will invest $1 billion over the next five years in Argo, a new driverless car company.
The investment in Argo marks a big shift in Ford’s strategy, which has previously focused on in-house efforts to develop autonomous driving.
Argo was founded by two engineers who previously worked on autonomous driving at Alphabet and Uber. Ford will own the majority of the company as part of the deal, but the startup will run independently. The company aims to have its fully autonomous cars on the road in a commercial setting, such as a ride-sharing program, by 2021.
The acquisition is the latest in a string of transactions in the self-driving car race. General Motors paid $1 billion to acquire driverless car startup Cruise last year. Meanwhile, Toyota is investing $1 billion in developing autonomous driving technology and associated safety features.
“The term autonomous vehicles is just thrown about so liberally in this industry. I mean, there are five levels of autonomy,” Ford CEO Mark Fields said to Business Insider. “My only fear in the industry is somebody tries to come out with one of those [self-driving cars] before it’s ready and then there’s an event.”