Ford and Volkswagen collaboration may broaden into passenger car development and autonomous driving

Talks are apparently underway to broaden the strategic alliance between Volkswagen and Ford, according to Bloomberg. Potential areas of collaboration include autonomous driving and making vehicles for one another, sources familiar with the matter have revealed.

The sources, who declined to be identified because negotiations were ongoing, added that potential cooperation on self-driving technology is being looked at, with significant savings expected as a result of cost sharing if the collaboration takes flight.

In June, both automakers signed a MoU towards exploring potential projects across a number of areas. One of these will be the development of a range of commercial vehicles, a segment which Ford stated is set to play a big part in its North American product portfolio by 2020. In August, Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess said the automaker was open to expanding cooperation with Ford beyond commercial vehicles, adding that previous joint projects had worked out well.

Ford’s chief financial officer Bob Shanks told Bloomberg that the collaboration discussions aren’t limited and covers different types of technology, product segments and geography. “We’re having a very broad set of discussions about how we can help each other around the world,” he explained. Meanwhile, a Volkswagen spokesman said talks with Ford are progressing well, but declined to elaborate on details.

Ford is currently setting out on US$11 billion (RM45.98 billion) global restructuring over the next three to five years, and a working relationship with a rival is one way to lower costs and get new cars and technology to market in faster fashion, the report added.

“In the world we’re in, where the future is so ill-defined because it’s yet to be created, companies are going to have to collaborate more together. We have a history with VW. We get along with them. And if you look at the strengths and weaknesses of each of us, we match up really, really well. That’s very important in these types of collaborations because getting along well is a good part of the formula for success,” Shanks said.

Product sharing discussions are also underway between Ford and Mahindra, where the use of the Indian manufacturer as a benchmark in order to reduce supplier costs in the region is being mooted.

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