Hint: both trucks and EVs are probably involved.
Ford and Volkswagen have been discussing future joint projects since the summer. More specifically, the two global automakers are examining ways they can cooperate on commercial vehicles, light trucks that include pickups, and electric vehicle platform sharing. Ford has been and continues to be mum on the subject, but not so much VW.
Its CEO, Herbert Diess revealed last week his company is also interested in gaining access to Ford's US manufacturing operations, according to Automotive News. For its part, Ford is looking for ways it can save money on normally expensive operations. Like GM, it will also likely streamline its workforce, meaning layoffs.
Sharing some operational costs with VW will make that corporate overhaul come sooner rather than later. But what does VW want with Ford's US manufacturing operations? That's simple. It wants to get into the pickup truck and SUV business and what better partner to have than Ford? Remember, VW also wants to increase its customer base in the US and to do that it has to build the types of vehicles Americans want. Diess' latest comments acknowledging what VW wants is likely a way to put those previously quiet talks out into the open and to force Ford to respond.
Ford executive chairman Bill Ford did admit, however, that the Ford-VW talks have been going "really well" and that "the culture fit is good." Both automakers previously stressed these talks are not about a merger, as was done years ago with the Daimler and Chrysler, which didn't end well.
Culture plays a huge part in corporations so it's vital both parties not only see eye to eye, but also understand one another. With Ford's upcoming sedan phase-out, including the Focus, Fusion and Taurus, there will soon be empty production plants. Are those what VW is eyeing for truck/SUV production? Possibly.
Diess did go on record a few months ago saying VW was serious about doing a global successor to its Amarok pickup truck based on the new Ford Ranger platform. For now, Diess has put the microphone in Ford's hands and is waiting for a more public response. In other words, internal discussions have gone well and it's time to kick this potential deal into high gear.