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Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

The global pandemic may be reinforcing the logic for self-driving cars, but the economic fallout is likely to accelerate the consolidation trend that was already underway.

What it matters: Self-driving technology is a difficult — and expensive — challenge, and many companies have decided they are better off pooling resources. Only a handful of well-capitalized players will likely make it across the finish line.

What's happening: Aptiv closed its $4 billion joint venture deal with Hyundai on March 26, in the midst of the crisis.

  • The new company, yet to be named, will be based in Boston, and led by Aptiv's Karl Iagnemma.

What's they're saying: "A couple of years ago, people thought this was a software activity," Iagnemma told Axios. "What the industry has come to realize is that having a deep strategic relationship with an automotive (company) is essential."

  • It's capital-intensive, too: $1 billion is the price of entry for credible AV players, says Iagnemma.

Yes, but: Well-funded independent players can succeed without worrying about being dependent on a single automaker's fortunes, says Sterling Anderson, co-founder of Aurora Innovation, whose A-list backers include Sequoia Capital, Amazon and T. Rowe Price.

  • "These are make or break moments," said Anderson, whose company is focused on automation for commercial vehicles.

What's next: Volkswagen and Argo AI are nearing completion of a $2.6 billion investment deal that will make Ford and VW equal minority shareholders in the automated driving tech company.

What to watch: Fiat Chrysler says it is still committed to a planned merger with PSA Groupe, but both sides are scrambling to preserve cash in light of the crisis, and there's talk that the companies could try to renegotiate terms of the deal.

Go deeper: Automakers lay out back-to-work playbook for coronavirus pandemic

Go deeper

Jul 28, 2020 - Economy & Business

The back-to-work puzzle

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

With an unending list of factors to consider — including the safety of air-conditioning systems, the risk of using public transportation, schools' reopening schedules and the needs of high-risk employees — the back-to-work puzzle is getting increasingly difficult to solve.

The big picture: At first, companies were pleasantly surprised at how well telecommuting worked, with many firms — including Twitter — saying they might go remote forever. Now, about four months in, remote work doesn't seem so great anymore.

14 hours ago - Health

FDA advisory panel recommends Pfizer boosters for those 65 and older

A healthcare worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine at the Key Biscayne Community Center on Aug. 24, 2021. Photo: Eva Marie Uzcategui/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A key Food and Drug Administration advisory panel on Friday overwhelmingly voted against recommending Pfizer vaccine booster shots for younger Americans, but unanimously recommended approving the third shots for individuals 65 and older, as well as those at high-risk of severe COVID-19.

Why it matters: While the votes are non-binding, and the FDA must still make a final decision, Friday's move pours cold water on the Biden administration's plan to begin administering boosters to most individuals who received the Pfizer vaccine later this month.

15 hours ago - World

France recalls ambassadors from U.S. and Australia over submarine deal

Secretary of State Antony Blinken (L), French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian (C), and French ambassador to the U.S. Philippe Etienne. Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images

France has taken the extraordinary step of recalling its ambassadors to the U.S. and Australia after both countries blindsided their French allies with a new military pact and submarine contract, the French Foreign Ministry announced on Friday.

The backstory: While sealing an agreement with the U.S. and U.K. to acquire nuclear submarines, Australia ripped up an existing $90 billion submarine deal with France. That led senior French officials to accuse the U.S. of a "stab in the back."