Volkswagen and Ford team up on self-driving and electric cars

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

Volkswagen and Ford announced plans Friday to work closely to develop electric- and self-driving vehicles, the latest automakers to partner in the face of massive changes rocking the auto industry.

As part of the deal, VW will become an equal stakeholder in Ford's self-driving cars venture, while Ford will get access to VW's electric vehicle technology.

A press release announcing the news conference says the "companies also will share details of new collaborations also aimed at better serving their customers while improving each company's competitiveness and capital efficiency". The company also invested $500 million in EV pickup startup company Rivian in April, which Hackett says is created to accelerate the automaker's knowledge base on EVs and should be seen separately from product development.

Volkswagen will put forward just under £2.1 billion - including £800 million in direct funding and the transferring of its own Autonomous Intelligent Driving (AID) company, valued at £1.28bn - as well as purchasing shares from Ford over a three-year period.

"Not only does it likely further de-risk VW estimates in 2020 by guaranteeing some profits from electric vehicles next year, but also likely provides VW with an unassailable scale advantage in the market with it potentially producing around 400,000 battery electric vehicles in Europe next year", Citi analyst Angus Tweedie said in a note published on July 10. This brings the total investments into the autonomous company up to more than $7 billion. The company hopes to sell 600,000 of them over six years.

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Volkswagen intends to launch a vehicle with Argo's platform in "the early 2020s", according to CEO Herbert Diess.

"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 chief executive Herbert Diess said on Friday.

This partnership will see Ford being the first to use VW's "modular electric toolkit", or MEB, an electric vehicle platform that aims to make the production of electric cars cheaper. They suggest they will share development of a fully electric vehicle that will come to market by 2023.

Back in January when the alliance was first made public, it was with news that Ford will begin using one of VW's internal combustion vehicle architectures to build light commercial vehicles for markets outside North America.

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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