VW and Ford could share electric and autonomous platforms

31 October 2018

31 October 2018

Volkswagen (VW) and Ford could look to strengthen their current alliance and take advantage of each other’s research and development in autonomous and electric vehicles (EVs).

The deal could see VW share its EV platform with the US carmaker, giving Ford a boost as it looks to develop electrically driven vehicles in response to a changing automotive landscape. The company is perceived to be behind other big brands when it comes to the new technology.

VW and Ford said in June that they were considering a development and production alliance that would include light commercial vehicles to strengthen each company’s standing. However, answering a question during a conference call to announce Q3 results, CFO Frank Witter said the German manufacturer’s strategy is to open up to more partnerships.

Asked whether this would include allowing Ford to use the brand’s MEB electric vehicle platform, being developed for its I.D. sub-brand and other models within the Group, Witter suggested: ′Whether we might provide access to other brands outside of the VW Group is theoretically possible, but there is no decision.’

VW plans to build 10 million vehicles using the MEB platform, introducing 27 models across all its group brands. The company has invested €70 billion into its research and development of electric vehicles as it looks to establish itself as a market leader in the field.

Meanwhile, the two companies are also in talks to collaborate on autonomous driving and mobility services.

′Collaboration is not being limited in any way whatsoever, whether it is different types of technology, product segments or geography,’ Ford CFO Bob Shanks commented. ′We’re having a very broad set of discussions about how we can help each other around the world.’

Together with its self-driving partner Argo AI, Ford has also said it is open to outside investment, including providing autonomous technology to a second automaker.

′With VW, we haven’t put boundary conditions regarding where we could collaborate,’ Shanks said. ′We’re looking at the strengths and the gaps of each company on both sides of the table and trying to understand how we can help each other.’

Ford announced in April that it was looking to develop an autonomous car-share scheme for 2021, wanting to create its technology and establish services in-house rather than collaborate with an existing ride-hailing business.

Any such alliance in these fields between two of the world’s biggest carmakers would highlight even further the changes manufacturers need to embrace to take up market-leading positions. By creating such partnerships, Ford and VW would be sharing development costs, production lines and more. This is crucial when financial pressures over emissions targets, testing and developing models is causing various companies to post profit warnings and quarterly losses.