Ford, VW expand partnership to EV development, invest in AI

The tie-up includes joint investment in autonomous platform company Argo AI.

Ford and Volkswagen announced early Friday that the two companies will expand their partnership into the realm of electrification, outlining plans for a new high-volume passenger EV to go on sale in Europe by 2023.

Sold as a Ford, this new EV will ride on Volkswagen's Modular Electric Toolkit (MEB) architecture, and is only the first of what may be several products to be developed using shared platforms, as the announcement hinted that others could be in the pipeline, with a second Ford-branded vehicle already "under discussion."

Ford's volume goal for this new product is 600,000 vehicles over six years. Volkswagen expects to build 15 million vehicles for its Group brands on the MEB architecture over the next decade.

"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,” said Volkswagen CEO Dr. Herbert Diess.

Ford and Volkswagen also had pre-existing plans to jointly develop commercial vans and pickups for various world markets; those plans remain "on track," they said.

The companies also announced that they are investing in Argo AI, a company which has developed an autonomous vehicle platform. Both Ford and Volkswagen will be able to integrate Argo AI's platform into their future self-driving designs.

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.”

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