Ford, Volkswagen Promise Details on Electric & Autonomous Vehicle Partnership

A Ford-VW alliance with Argo could redraw self-driving sector

With this latest investment, Volkswagen has agreed to join Ford in investing in Argo AI, the autonomous vehicle platform company now valued at $7 billion.

Ford Motor Co (F.N) and Volkswagen AG (VOWG_p.DE) said they will spend billions of dollars to jointly develop electric and self-driving vehicles, deepening a global alliance to slash development and manufacturing costs while positioning VW as the initial victor.

Ford CEO Jim Hackett said: "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". Specifically, the two will leverage their strengths in electric vehicles and autonomy, giving the two automakers more solid footing in both arenas. The two companies say a second Ford-badged MEB-based BEV is also under discussion.

VW will purchase Argo AI shares from Ford for $500m over three years.

In return, Credit Suisse analysts said VW may provide "crucial public validation" for Ford's autonomous-vehicle business, including partner Argo AI.

Details of the announcement expected on Friday were not immediately available. "Our global alliance is beginning to demonstrate even greater promise, and we are continuing to look at other areas on which we might collaborate", VW CEO Dr. Herbert Diess said. These will be designed at Ford's facility in Cologne, Germany and will go into production starting in 2023, at a rate of 100,000 a year for six years.


The electric vehicle cooperation will help reduce development costs and make battery-powered vehicles available faster across the globe, VW CEO Herbert Diess said in a statement. They suggest they will share development of a fully electric vehicle that will come to market by 2023.

Auto and tech industry experts say partnerships like Ford and VW will become more common.

It was not clear if some of those future Ford EVs could migrate to VW's MEB platform, versions of which the German automaker will build in Europe, China and North America.

Volkswagen will contribute its Autonomous Intelligent Driving (AID) company to Argo, which will boost the self-driving unit's employees to 700 from 500.

The second major cornerstone in Volkswagen and Ford's relationship is an investment by the German firm in Argo AI, an autonomous auto company that Ford first backed in 2017.

In May, a group of internal institutional investors sank $1.15 billion into GM Cruise LLC, the autonomous vehicle unit of Ford's main competitor, General Motors.

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