What's the news?
It's been an open secret in the motor industry for some time now, but at the Detroit motor show, Ford and Volkswagen confirmed that they will co-operate with each other to produce their next generations of commercial vehicles.
The agreement for now covers the development and production of the next generations of the Transit and Transporter, and the Amarok and Ranger pickups. It's expected that the first production models of these new vehicles should be ready by 2022.
The interesting part is that Ford and Volkswagen have also confirmed that they will collaborate on "autonomous vehicles, mobility services and electric vehicles." Generally speaking, Volkswagen is thought to be ahead of the curve when it comes to developing electric vehicles, readying as it is its new I.D. 500km-range electric hatchback for a launch this year. Ford, by contrast, is perceived as being behind in electric car development, with no fully-electric model on sale in Europe yet, and only a single hybrid car (the Mondeo) currently available.
With Ford announcing a $15-billion restructuring plan, which includes the killing-off of many of its passenger car ranges in favour of SUVs, it could be that the Blue Oval is cosying up to Volkswagen in order to use its MQB and MEB chassis for future vehicles. The collaboration on electric cars also means that the future of the all-electric Mach One SUV may now be in doubt, especially if Ford wants to use Volkswagen's MEB electric car platform.
"Over time, this alliance will help both companies create value and meet the needs of our customers and society," Jim Hackett, Ford's CEO said. "It will not only drive significant efficiencies and help both companies improve their fitness, but also gives us the opportunity to collaborate on shaping the next era of mobility."
Herbert Diess, Volkswagen's CEO, added: "Volkswagen and Ford will harness our collective resources, innovation capabilities and complementary market positions to even better serve millions of customers around the world. At the same time, the alliance will be a cornerstone for our drive to improve competitiveness."