VW, Ford close to EV and self-driving cars partnership

Volkswagen and Ford are already partners in developing commercial vehicles, and it looks like the relationship between the two is set to deepen. VW and Ford are close to reaching a deal on a partnership for developing self-driving and electric cars, the European giant’s CEO said on Thursday, reported by Reuters.

Wolfsburg and the Detroit carmaker signed a deal in March to develop a pick-up truck, and have been in talks about extending the current co-operation to include autonomous driving and mobility services, as well as Ford’s use of the Volkswagen Group’s MEB electric vehicle platform.

The discussions are “going well and are nearly complete,” VW CEO Herbert Diess told around 500 of the company’s top managers from around the world at its headquarters. On Ford’s end, it said talks were continuing and that it would share updates when details became firm. “Discussions have been productive across a number of areas,” a spokeswoman said via email.

It is noted that carmakers are increasingly looking to partnerships and alliances to help share the cost of moving to new and cleaner tech, potentially saving billions of dollars. A case in point is the recent failed merger negotiations between Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) and France’s Renault.

The newswire’s report also notes that Volkswagen views its relationship with Ford as strategically important to help balance its regional interests. “Today we are de facto a very Chinese-oriented company. For this, we need a counterweight in the US,” Diess said.

Electric vehicles aside, autonomous tech is firmly in the auto industry’s attention. Earlier this week, VW said it had ended its partnership with self-driving car software company Aurora. This came after the latter said it would build autonomous platforms for commercial vehicles with FCA. Ford may have something to offer – its majority-owned subsidiary Argo AI is building an automated “driver” that could compete with Aurora’s tech.

So, it looks like in this deepening relationship, VW gains Ford’s autonomous inroads while Ford benefits from VW’s EV architecture. There have also been talks about factory sharing.

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