Confirmed: Ford to share Volkswagen’s MEB platform for at least one electric car by 2023

Volkswagen to invest in Ford-backed autonomous tech firm in exchange for use of modular EV platform in global alliance

Ford and Volkswagen have jointly announced the expansion of their global alliance will include electric vehicles along with the development of autonomous technology and commercial vehicles.

The deal allows Ford to make use of the German giant’s MEB modular electric platform for “at least one high volume fully electric vehicle in Europe”, to launch in 2023. Ford plans to deliver more than 600,000 MEB-based vehicles over a six-year period, with a second model already said to be under discussion. 

Volkswagen will supply the platform plus unspecified components that are likely to include the lithium ion battery system and electric motor. Ford will design and assemble the car at its facility in Cologne, Germany.  

Analysis: what Ford and Volkswagen’s tie-up means

Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess claimed the scaling of the MEB platform in this way “drives down development costs for zero-emissions vehicles, allowing for a broader and faster adoption,” saying: “This improves the position of both companies through greater capital efficiency, further growth and improved competitiveness”. Both manufacturers will continue to explore further joint avenues into electric mobility.

The second major cornerstone in Volkswagen and Ford’s relationship is an investment by the German firm in Argo AI, an autonomous car company that Ford first backed in 2017

Volkswagen will put forward just under £2.1 billion –  including £800 million in direct funding and the transferring of its own Autonomous Intelligent Driving (AID) company, valued at £1.28bn – as well as purchasing shares from Ford over a three-year period. This increases the total valuation of Argo AI to more than £5.6bn.

The car makers claim Argo AI’s self-driving system is the first with commercial deployment plans for Europe and the US. It plans to deliver a Level 4-capable self-driving system for “ride sharing and goods delivery services in dense urban areas”. 

Ford 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”.

Both firms also talked about their previously confirmed collaboration to develop commercial vans and pick-up trucks together. They are expecting demand in these segments to grow over the next five years. 

Ford will engineer and build a medium-sized pick-up to be sold by both brands in Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Asia Pacific and South America from 2022. 

The American firm will also be in charge of a large van for European customers in the same year, while Volkswagen will build a “city van for sale in Europe and other select markets”. Key models, such as Ford’s Transit and Ranger, plus Volkswagen’s Transporter and Caddy, will remain in the brands’ respective line-ups.

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Source: Autocar Online

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