Volkswagen wants to build a fleet of self-driving electric buses together with the Qatari sovereign wealth fund. VW boss Herbert Diess and QIA boss Mansur bin Ibrahim Al-Mahmud signed a corresponding contract in the Qatar capital Doha. According to the QIA, the aim of the Qatar Mobility project is to transform traffic in the Middle East metropolis into a sustainable and at the same time economical model. The fund is one of the largest shareholders in the German group.

The VW light commercial vehicle division, the Swedish truck subsidiary Scania, the Moia transport service and the Autonomous Intelligent Driving (AID) company from Munich are involved in the project. They want to offer an "emission-free, electric and autonomous local transport system" in Doha during the World Cup. According to the group, 35 autonomous electric shuttles from the E-Bullis ID Buzz will be used for four passengers each, and ten Scania buses for larger groups. The concept should continue to exist beyond 2022.

For safety reasons, there should still be a driver on board

The vehicles will not yet be those of the highest, completely autonomous level. For safety's sake, there is still a driver on board who can intervene if necessary - but the wagon driving is fully automated and independent.

"QIA and Volkswagen will work together to develop the necessary physical and digital infrastructure," announced the Qatari state fund. The offer should be integrated into Doha's existing public transport system. VW chief Diess said that the project also serves to gain experience "in real practice" and to form a "stepping stone" for further projects on autonomous driving. Head of state fund Al-Mahmud said: "For our cities to progress, we need a new wave of innovation." According to him, Doha wants to transform itself into a smart city with a networked and energy-efficient infrastructure.

Just two weeks ago, Lower Saxony's Prime Minister Stephan Weil (SPD) traveled to Qatar to deepen ties with the emirate. The federal state holds the most voting rights in Volkswagen after the Porsche / Piƫch family, followed by the QIA fund.