Volkswagen and Ford have just announced more about their global collaboration. It's going to see VW investing in Ford's autonomous vehicle company, Ford using VW's MEB electric platform, shared development of vans and pickups, and other expected cost savings.
The announcement came today in New York. It's an extensive series of partnerships, but both point out that the companies will not have cross-ownership. The first is that Volkswagen will be joining Ford with an investment in Argo AI. The duo calls Argo AI the first self-driving system with "commercial deployment plans for Europe and the US." Both will independently integrate the system into vehicles when it's ready. Ford and VW will hold an equal share in Argo, totalling a substantial majority of shares.
"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 CEO Jim Hackett said.
Volkswagen will be investing US$2.6 billion into Argo: $1 billion in funding, and $1.6 by adding its own 200-employee Autonomous Intelligent Driving Company to Argo. It will also purchase $500 million in Argo shares from Ford over three years.
The next part of the announcement was that Ford would launch an EV using the Volkswagen MEB platform. That vehicle will launch in Europe in 2023, and Ford expects to sell 600,000 over the following six years. They're also holding discussions over building a second vehicle.
The MEB electric architecture has been in development by VW since 2016, and they've spent around US$7 billion on that development. They're expecting it to underpin 15 million VWs in the next decade.
"Scaling our MEB drives down development costs for zero-emissions vehicles, allowing for a broader and faster global adoption of electric vehicles. This improves the positions of both companies through greater capital efficiency, further growth, and improved competitiveness," said VW CEO Herbert Diess.
Ford and VW confirmed that they are still working together to develop vans and medium-size pickups for certain markets. The medium-size truck will be built and engineered by Ford for just about everywhere but North America, expected to arrive by 2022. Ford will also engineer and build a large commercial van for Europe set for 2022 with VW doing the same with a city van.