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BMW wants to build 'the most intelligent car'

Electric vehicles and autonomous driving are among a few of its pushes toward the future.
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Associated Press

BMW is looking to the future. For the German automaker, that means a research and development team that's as well versed in artificial intelligence as it is wind-tunnel testing. It's a future where the competition isn't Cadillac or Audi, but Uber and car-price comparison site TrueCar, according to Reuters. "Our task is to preserve or business model without surrendering it to an internet player," BMW's Klaus Froehlich says. "Otherwise we will end up as the Foxconn for a company like Apple, delivering only the metal bodies for them." Meaning, a background player for a bigger organization that gets the glory.

"For me it is a core competence to have the most intelligent car," he says.

And that means hiring. BMW wants to get its software engineer count up to a 50:50 spread compared to its other employees and because schools in Deutschland aren't producing enough viable candidates, the company has to look at outward partnerships to fill the gaps. Those include working with cloud computing and storage outfits to help drive its autonomous vehicle initiative.

But partnerships go both ways. Froehlich says that his firm will license out its electric drivetrains to manufacturers that otherwise couldn't develop their own -- a move that would surely help it recoup those heavy R & D costs. Pretty forward thinking for a 100 year-old, eh? If this doesn't work out, there's always its connected motorcycle helmet business.

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