As expected, Volkswagen and Ford are announcing a major expansion of their global partnership. The two companies will work together on a number of additional topics, including electric vehicles and autonomous technologies, and will also invest in Argo AI’s self-driving system but we’ll get to that later.
What appears to be the most important point in the extended agreement, however, is that Ford will use Volkswagen’s Modular Electric Toolkit, also known as the MEB architecture, to design and build its own fully-electric vehicles starting in 2023. The German manufacturer will supply the Blue Oval with MEB parts and components for up to 600,000 vehicles for Europe over the course of six years. Additionally, the two automakers are already discussing a second all-new EV for the Old continent.
“Looking ahead, even more customers and the environment will benefit from Volkswagen’s industry-leading EV architecture,” Volkswagen CEO, Herbert Diess, commented on the agreement. “Our global alliance is beginning to demonstrate even greater promise, and we are continuing to look at other areas on which we might collaborate.”
In addition to the MEB platform, Ford and Volkswagen will have an equal stake in Argo AI, and combined, the two automakers will own a substantial majority. Future models of both companies will feature self-driving systems developed by the autonomous vehicle platform firm. Also, VW and Ford are on track to deliver medium trucks for global customers with a planned start in 2022. These will be followed by a series of commercial vehicles for Europe.
“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,” Ford President and CEO, Jim Hackett, added. “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.”
It’s important to note that the collaboration between the two manufacturers “does not entail cross-ownership between the two companies and is independent from the investment into Argo AI.”