Ford and Volkswagen are rumored to be expanding their earlier partnership into a larger collaboration on new powertrains and platforms.
Earlier this summer, we reported that Ford and Volkswagen had entered into a joint venture to share technology on commercial vehicles. Soon after that, rumors began to swirl that execs with both companies were exploring the possibilities of sharing technology on small trucks and creating a joint platform for the next generation of the Ranger and Amarok mid-size pickups.
Those rumors might turn out to be true, according to a new report from the Detroit Free Press.
“Something big is brewing,” said Autoline’s John McElroy in an interview. “Look, if it isn’t, [Ford CEO] Jim Hackett can't survive. He has got to drop a bombshell on the industry.”
Ford and VW haven’t made any official announcements, but industry analysts state that the two companies would have a lot to gain from a larger partnership, and even a possible merger. Their market shares have very little overlap, with Ford dominating trucks and SUVs in America while VW has a better hold of cars. Volkswagen is also much stronger in China--the largest automotive market in the world--while Ford is still struggling to make inroads in the most populous nation on Earth.
Volkswagen also has made great strides in electric powertrains, while Ford seems to have fallen behind in alternative fuel development. Both companies would save hundreds of millions of dollars sharing powertrains and platforms rather than developing them separately.
“You can share vehicle platforms and powertrains,” McElroy said. “I don’t think people buying cars even know what’s under the hood. It doesn’t matter. I mean, Mustang GT? Those people do. And Audi RS? They do, too. But 90 percent of the car-buying public doesn’t know or care. Why not share all that stuff?”
But are we in for a merger or a series of larger partnerships? Volkswagen chairman of the board of management told a German newspaper last August that collaboration on platforms and powertrains "is part of the talks."
"I must ask for some patience here," he added.
Both Ford and Volkswagen are looking to recover some momentum as they head into the 2020s. Ford is currently undergoing a massive, multi-billion dollar restructuring, while VW is still suffering the fallout of Dieselgate.
Ford and Volkswagen have stated they will make a larger announcement in the future.