With so many carmakers joining forces to tackle mobility, electrification, and autonomous driving tech, perhaps it will just be vehicle body lines that distinguish cars from one another in the future.
- Ford and Volkswagen are reportedly in talks to share electric vehicle and autonomous technology.
- As a part of the deal, VW would share its MEB all-electric vehicle platform with Ford.
- Presumably, Ford would share its self-driving tech with VW in return.
- The two automakers already agreed earlier this year to co-develop commercial vehicles together.
Earlier this year, Volkswagen and Ford agreed to partner on developing commercial vehicles, including vans and trucks. However, that partnership may be strengthening and bleeding into the commercial vehicle parts of the respective company’s businesses.
VW and Ford are reportedly in talks to share electric vehicle and autonomous driving technology. Specifically, according to a Reuters report, VW would share its MEB all-electric vehicle platform. That very platform will underpin 22 million of VW’s electric cars by 2029, including the forthcoming ID.3 pure-electric VW hatchback.
“Our talks with Volkswagen continue. Discussions have been productive across a number of areas,” a Ford spokeswoman told Reuters. “We’ll share updates as details become more firm.”
The potential VW and Ford autonomous tech-sharing agreement wouldn’t be the only one of its kind. This week BMW and Mercedes-Benz announced a partnership to co-develop autonomous vehicle technology. This follows the February announcement that BMW and Mercedes’ parent company Daimler would be merging their mobility brands.
On the electrification co-development front, BMW also penned a deal with Jaguar Land Rover to work hand in hand on electrified vehicle powertrains.
Meanwhile, in Japan, Toyota has paired with what feels like virtually every other Japanese carmaker to develop EV. Toyota now has agreements with Subaru, Mazda, Suzuki, and Daihatsu to develop various EV models.
There are probably other such agreements that I am currently forgetting right now, too. If you’re starting to feel like the carmaker world is starting to get a lot smaller, you’re not crazy — it is.
And that’s a weird thing to think and wonder about: Why on earth are these competitors walking hand in hand into the e-mobility abyss? That’s precisely because it’s an abyss (my word, not theirs).
Carmakers simply have no idea how this electrified mobility thing is going to shake out. China, the world’s largest new-car market, could get all of its carmakers up to speed on electrification and autonomy and kick out all the other global automakers. The loss of that market would tank most car brands. I mean, look at what happened to Jaguar Land Rover when it saw a Chinese sales downturn last fiscal year; it lost $4.6 billion in the process.
Granted, China closing its doors to all carmakers aside from domestics is admittedly unlikely. What is more likely, however, is that the e-mobility market will be crazy-different — with far lower profit margins — from the current business model enjoyed by auto brands. So, rather than go it alone, they’d rather extend an olive branch to their competitors and wade into the waters together.
Yes, that will mean VW will effectively keep Ford afloat. But it will work both ways. Carmakers’ biggest fear now isn’t their competitors succeeding; it’s their own failure that haunts them. If keeping your competitor alive will ensure your own survival, so be it.