Volkswagen’s supervisory board meets Friday to discuss how to handle the next decade of vehicle development, with CEO Herbert Diess expected to present a strategy that includes Ford as a key partner. The two automakers already have a Memorandum of Understanding with an eye on commercial vehicles, but VW could take the relationship further. Much further.
Ford’s Jim Hackett admits the talks are going well, but the CEO isn’t about to leap into bed without taking precautions.
Telling Reuters that he’s open to rival automakers’ cash when it comes to autonomous vehicles, Hackett said that any expansion of its partnership with VW would be a “delicate dance.”
On commercial vehicles, Hackett said the discussion is “going better than we thought it would,” adding that, “Herbert and I had a great discussion.” With sources already whispering to media about potential platform swaps, VW assisting Ford in Europe and Latin America, the Germans gaining access to the Ranger platform, and Ford borrowing VW’s electric MEB bones, the future contains a range of possibilities for the two companies. Hackett’s approaching it with caution, claiming no deal has been made.
“We compete in a bunch of areas as well,” he said.
Ford faces stiff competition in the autonomous vehicle field. GM-owned Cruise hopes to have a commercial self-driving ride-hailing fleet in service next year, while Waymo, backed by a promise of boatloads of Chrysler Pacificas, plans to cautiously enter that realm in December. Ford’s controlling stake in self-driving startup Argo AI is just part of its broader autonomous efforts, with the company entering into pilot programs with companies offering home delivery. Think pizzas and dry cleaning.
One goal, however, is for Ford Autonomous Vehicles to give birth to a versatile ride-hailing fleet of its own, using vehicles developed by Ford.
[Image: Ford Motor Company]