Suzuki to Develop Autonomous Electric Vehicle Platform

The automaker is collaborating with Applied EV

Graham Hope

April 6, 2023

2 Min Read
Applied EV

Japanese automaker Suzuki has signaled its intent to develop an autonomous electric vehicle platform with Australian company Applied EV.

Suzuki confirmed in a statement that it had signed a memorandum of understanding with the Melbourne-based firm.

The pair originally agreed to partner in 2021, and in September 2022, the relationship was solidified when Suzuki took a major stake in Applied EV in a funding round that raised $21 million.

Now the collaboration has advanced further.

According to a press release announcing the news, Applied EV’s autonomous vehicle platform, Blanc Robot, will be integrated into the ladder frame of Suzuki’s four-wheel-drive Jimny, electrified by Applied EV and operated by its central control system, Digital Backbone.

Although not sold in the U.S., the Jimny is a diminutive off-roader that has proven popular in many markets across the world thanks to its exceptional ability over rugged terrain and classic, boxy looks.

Suzuki and Applied EV say they plan to bring Blanc Robot to production and develop business models to expand the adoption of autonomous electric vehicles. 

It was also confirmed that prior to the agreement, Suzuki had made additional investment in Applied EV through its corporate venture capital fund, Suzuki Global Ventures. 

Related:Europe’s First Driverless Car Test Completed

Applied EV’s latest Generation Six Digital Backbone was revealed earlier this year at CES in Las Vegas, where it was hailed as an ideal solution for Level 4 and Level 5 autonomous applications, with multiple layers of redundancy.

The company made clear it was targeting OEMs and that the tech would enable machines of all types to run entirely on software. 

“After years perfecting the Digital Backbone in trials, we are now presenting our first fully commercial solution. It is precisely the new type of innovation that will future-proof business models and form the mainstay of the transportation industry for decades to come,” said Julian Broadbent, Applied EV’s CEO  

Broadbent added that the Digital Backbone was “functionally unique” as it could be integrated into any traditional EV as well as the Blanc Robot platform.

The company previously showcased how Blanc Robot could be applied when it was paired up with British company Oxbotica’s self-driving software on a delivery vehicle that was used in Europe’s first-ever trial of a fully autonomous vehicle with no occupants on public roads in May 2022.

Suzuki officially stopped selling cars in the United States in 2012, but it remains a force elsewhere, particularly in India, where it sold 1,576,025 cars in 2022 under its Maruti subsidiary. It has not yet indicated a target date for completion of the new platform to be developed with Applied EV.

About the Author(s)

Graham Hope

Graham Hope has worked in automotive journalism in the U.K. for 26 years, including spells as editor of leading consumer news website and weekly Auto Express and respected buying guide CarBuyer.

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