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Volkswagen Builds Its Six Millionth Car of 2017

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Volkswagen is ready to deploy the resources of the world’s largest carmaker to turbo-charge its drive into autonomous vehicles with a linkup to Silicon Valley’s hottest mobility startup. Eager to put the damage from the Dieselgate emissions scandal behind it, VW Thursday announced a new partnership with Aurora Innovation to put self-driving cars on the road by 2021, reported Handelsblatt (Germany).

“We want to get into the passing lane of autonomous driving with Aurora,” Johann Jungwirth, VW’s chief digital officer, told Handelsblatt. “When we bring our autonomous vehicles into the first cities in 2021, we will be profitable from day one.”

By joining forces with the Palo Alto, California startup founded by the former autonomous vehicle gurus at Google and Tesla, Wolfsburg-based VW hopes to catch up with Alphabet’s Google, which has already test-driven millions of miles in developing its self-driving cars.

Barely a year old, Aurora was founded by former Google roboticist Chris Urmson, former Tesla roboticist Sterling Anderson, and Drew Bagnell, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. The startup has fewer than a hundred employees but has created a lot of buzz because of the pedigrees of its founders. “We believe that our cooperation with automakers like Volkswagen helps us to go to market most quickly,” Mr. Anderson said. Aurora also announced a partnership with South Korean automaker Hyundai.

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Volkswagen's fate waivered after being majorly penalized by the United States federal government this past year. Findings of diesel emission cheats drove the company's social status into the dirt, and with brand executives being locked up seemingly every other week, it would appear as if the German automaker would struggle to come out ahead. However, just two years after investigations began, VW has reported its largest manufacturing numbers yet, reported The Drive (US).

According to a statement from Thomas Ulbrich, Volkswagen’s head of production and logistics, the marque is expected to end 2017 by surpassing six million vehicles built. This is more than ever before in the company's history, proving well for the auto giant amidst continuous woes caused by the Dieselgate scandal.

“More than six million vehicles produced in 12 months—there is one thing that this shows above all: our plants and employees are continually improving their production competence," Ulbrich said. "We have top teams in production which successfully master growing demand from customers."

VW's most popular models, the Jetta, Golf, and Passat, helped it to break this milestone over the last calendar year. 108,575 Jettas were sold in the United States alone in 2017 as well as 64,449 Golfs, complimenting a respective 57,707 Passats moved.

Introductions of new models including the Atlas, Arteon, and T-Roc helped bolster production numbers both domestically and internationally for the corporation. Anticipated expansion tells that these figures could continue to rise, especially given the influx of SUV/crossover purchases in America and beyond.

According to company officials, Volkswagen has built over 150 million cars in its 72-year tenure. It currently manufacturers models in 50 factories across 14 countries, putting it on par with Toyota as a consistent winner of world's largest automaker.

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Reporter: Denes Osvalt
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