Volkswagen and Ford would collaborate to push the development of autonomous driving systems and electric driving, Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess and Ford CEO Jim Hackett announced on Friday.
VW and Ford said their alliance would let them roll out self-driving technology in more markets than other companies. It has sought outside investors to help share the spiraling cost of developing autonomous vehicle technology.
With electric and autonomous vehicles driving the biggest shake-up in the automotive sector in a century, the vast costs of developing these ground-breaking technologies is forcing even the biggest players to form alliances to share the financial strain. One of the vehicles will be a redesigned version of VW's Amarok mid-size pickup sold overseas, which will likely be twinned with Ford's next-generation Ranger.
VW is buying the Argo shares for another $500 million from Ford, which acquired a majority stake in the Pittsburgh-based startup in 2017.
"Ford has taken flack for years for not having a robust EV strategy and VW has had its own fair share of challenges, but this can help both companies reinvent themselves as innovative technology leaders", said Jessica Caldwell, executive director industry insights for Edmunds.com. Ford already has committed to putting $1 billion into Argo, which the companies now value at $7 billion. A Ford spokeswoman said the No. 2 U.S. automaker was in productive talks with the German company across a number of areas and more details would be provided on Friday.
- Ride-hailing company Uber joined with Toyota to build autonomous vehicles a year ago.
Fiat Chrysler in May made a merger proposal to France's Renault SA aimed at tackling the heavy costs of technological and regulatory changes in the industry, but ultimately abandoned the deal.
Ford will also become the first automaker outside the VW group to use the VW full-electric MEB platform to deliver high-volume, zero-emissions vehicles in Europe starting in 2023.
According to the executives, the deal will see Volkswagen enable Ford to access its underlying platform to anchor electric vehicles.
"For both companies, Ford intends to engineer, source and build larger commercial vans for European customers starting in 2022, and Volkswagen intends to develop, source and build a city van for sale in Europe and other select global markets", it added.