Ford is to become the first large OEM to use the modular electric vehicle platform (MEB) that the Volkswagen Group has spent $7 billion (approx. €6.2 billion) developing. The Volkswagen Group will use the MEB platform across a number of its brands including SEAT and Skoda, accounting for 15 million vehicles in the next decade.
Ford will use the MEB electric vehicle architecture for approximately 600,000 vehicles over six years as part of an $11.5 billion (approx. €10.2 billion) global investment in electric vehicles. A new model is set to go on sale in Europe in 2023.
Commenting on the deal, Dr Herbert Diess, Volkswagen CEO, said: "Looking ahead, even more customers and the environment will benefit from Volkswagen's industry-leading EV architecture. Our global alliance is beginning to demonstrate even greater promise, and we are continuing to look at other areas on which we might collaborate. 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."
Autonomous driving technology investment
Ford and Volkswagen have also announced a joint investment in autonomous vehicle platform company, Argo AI, valuing the firm at more than $7 billion. The technology that Argo AI is developing is said to play a vital role in the scalability of self-driving systems in future production cars, specifically with Level 4 automation. Both car makers will own a majority share in the company, but will have equal stakes. The deal, which is subject to regulatory approval, will not result in any cross-ownership between the Ford and Volkswagen companies.
Commenting on the investment in Argo AI, Ford President and CEO, Jim Hackett, said: "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. 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."
Ford and Volkswagen on commercial vehicles
Commercial vehicles are a significant part of both Ford and Volkswagen's business, and the two are jointly developing vans and a medium-sized pick-up with the first models due to roll out in 2022. Ford is taking the lead on the engineering of a pick-up in Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Asia Pacific and South America. Ford will also develop and build larger vans for Europe beginning in 2022, while Volkswagen will do the same for a smaller city van.