Surprisingly, we saw this coming.
Ford and Volkswagen have been deepening their relationship to one another as of late, slowly moving in the direction of forming one of those gargantuan partnerships that industry hawks keep predicting. It’s only natural, after all, since the industry has to pony up the cash to invest in electric and autonomous vehicle technology exactly as the car market undergoes a wide-scale contraction.
In order to help each other survive these evolutionary pressures, the two carmakers (one of which sees itself more as a mobility company) have just reached an agreement to share electric and autonomous car technologies with one another, according to what a source told Reuters. The agreement is so far just an outline and neither automaker has released details about the deal, but it builds on previous announcements the two companies have released.
During the 2019 Detroit Auto Show, both automakers mentioned how that they would partner with one another to gain understanding in the areas they each lack experience with - for Ford, it’s electric vehicles, for Volkswagen that’s trucks. Then, just a few months later, Volkswagen paid a hefty $1.7 billion sum to buy a stake in Ford’s autonomous vehicle subsidiary, Argo AI.
Both of those deals have paved the way for what we have now, an alliance rather than a merger, but one that will likely change the face of the auto industry in the future since the larger automakers are likely to be the ones that survive into the electric and autonomous era, and more so when they are working with one another. Volkswagen declined to comment on the news, but a Ford spokeswoman said, "Our talks with Volkswagen continue. Discussions have been productive across a number of areas. We’ll share updates as details become more firm.”
The source’s most important piece of news is that Volkswagen is planning to share its MEB platform electric vehicle platform with Ford. That’s a huge deal since Volkswagen’s MEB platform is its crown jewel and will underpin a wide range of future models, like the ID.3, ID Crozz, Audi Q4 e-tron, and more. Given that Ford’s EV technology is not as advanced as Volkswagen’s, this could help catapult Ford to the front of the electric car race.
And though it’s not quite as clear how far Ford is in building an autonomous car, Volkswagen will benefit from the advances it has made as well as push the envelope forward at a faster rate thanks to the new partnership. But that's just an educated guess. We'll have to wait to learn more since both companies are meeting on July 11th to discuss the agreement in further detail.