Ford and Volkswagen’s partnership continues to expand and will now include sharing of electric vehicle and self-driving car technology.
Volkswagen and Ford’s joint alliance was announced last January and it seems to be growing far beyond the original intent of making commercial vehicles. It soon grew to include a next-generation mid-size pickup, and now it will also include an EV and self-driving cars.
In a recent press release, Ford announced that Volkswagen would provide the Blue Oval with access to its MEB platform. That stands for Modular Electric Toolkit and will serve as the basis for most of Volkswagen’s electric vehicles in the near future.
Ford will use the MEB platform to create its own high-volume electric vehicle starting in 2023. Volkswagen has agreed to provide Ford with parts and MEB components for up to 600,000 vehicles in Europe over the next 6 years, with discussions likely to include extensions and possibly even a second model if all goes well.
In return, Volkswagen will now take an equal share in Argo AI, a self-driving startup company, purchasing $500 million shares from Ford over the next three years. Argo AI will provide both Ford and Volkswagen their self-driving technology, which focuses on level 4 autonomy for both commercial and private vehicles.
“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,” said Ford CEO Jim Hackett. “Unlocking the synergies across a range of areas allows us to showcase the power of our global alliance in this era of smart vehicles for a smart world.”
Ford and Volkswagen’s joint commercial vehicle and pickup venture are expected to start production by 2022. Although the two companies are getting very chummy, the alliance does not involve partial ownership of the other, thus avoiding some of the complications inherent with the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance.