Ford and Volkswagen are looking to build up on their partnership even more. Besides teaming up to build more pickup trucks, vans and other commercial vehicles, Ford Motor Co. and the Volkswagen Auto Group plan on expanding their global alliance into electric vehicles, as well as autonomous automobiles.
In a recent press conference, Ford CEO Jim Hackett, along with Volkswagen AG CEO Herbert Diess, confirmed that they will work together in bringing more affordable EVs, as well as self-driving automobiles to customers in the not so distant future.
Starting with Ford's plan on electric mobility, the company said that they will be using Volkswagen's Modular Electric Toolkit (MEB) platform to produce some 600,000 vehicles in Europe over the next six years. For Ford, using VW's MEB architecture is part of its more than $11.5 billion investment in EVs worldwide and its commitment in offering more electric vehicles in Europe. Diess added that by allowing Ford to use their EV platform, it will drive down production costs, EVs can be sold at a more attractive price, and can increase demand in electric cars faster.
“Looking ahead, even more customers and the environment will benefit from Volkswagen’s industry-leading EV architecture. Our global alliance is beginning to demonstrate even greater promise, and we are continuing to look at other areas on which we might collaborate,” said Diess.
Besides their EV plans, Ford and Volkswagen are also looking to advance both of their autonomous vehicle technology. To do that, the two companies will heavily invest in Argo AI, a company that specializes in software and autonomous technology. Volkswagen will be investing a total of $2.6 billion by committing $1 billion in funding. The remaining $1.6 billion will then be contributed from its Autonomous Intelligent Driving (AID) company which has more than 200 employees.
As part of the transaction, VW will also be purchasing shares from Ford for $500 million in a span of three years. Ford will then invest the remaining $600 million of its previously announved $1 billion cash commitment in Argo AI. With the addition of VW's AID, Argo AI's workforce will now amount to over 700+.
Argo AI plans on working closely with both Ford & Volkswagen so as to provide them the necessary tech needed to fully integrate cars autonomous tech. Argo AI CEO Bryan Salesky stated that they are committed to delivering in deploying self-driving technology for VW and Ford and that they are thankful for the two companies' trust with them.
However, don't expect the partnership between Ford and Volkswagen to be like the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance.
“While Ford and Volkswagen remain independent and fiercely competitive in the marketplace, teaming up and working with Argo AI on this important technology allows us to deliver unmatched capability, scale and geographic reach.Unlocking the synergies across a range of areas allows us to showcase the power of our global alliance in this era of smart vehicles for a smart world,” said Hackett.