The companies initially agreed to work together on commercial vehicle development in January 2019, with the plans expanded to involve pick-ups and a Ford EV built on the Volkswagen Group’s MEB platform last July. The two firms have now signed official agreements for the partnership and outlined full details of the projects that will be involved.
Volkswagen last week finalised a £2.1 billion investment in Argo AI, an American autonomous driving start-up company that Ford had already invested in.
In a joint release, Ford and Volkswagen said that their alliance will help them to “meet rapidly evolving needs of their respective customers in Europe and other regions by leveraging complementary strengths in mid-size pick-up trucks and commercial and electric vehicles”.
The alliance will offer substantial savings for both firms, allowing them to develop new or refreshed offerings in key market segments with substantially reduced development costs. Estimates suggest the combined savings of the agreement could reach $1 billion (£773 million).
Volkswagen to provide platform for Ford EV
A key part of the agreement will be a Ford EV focused on the European market, due to arrive by 2023 and developed on the Volkswagen Group’s electric MEB architecture. The firms says that the Ford machine will be “highly differentiated” and designed and engineered at the American’s firm’s European base in Cologne, Germany.
While details of the machine are scarce, Ford says it will “add another compelling nameplate” that will sit alongside the electric Mustang Mach-E. Ford has recently begun a trend of reviving old names for new vehicles, choosing to give its first bespoke EV Mustang branding and recently badging its new compact crossover as the Puma. It's also reviving the Bronco in America.
The two firms estimate that Ford “could deliver 600,000 electric vehicles atop the MEB architecture”, with Volkswagen saying the deal is “another cornerstone” in its EV strategy. While the MEB platform will underpin a range of EVs from Volkswagen, Seat, Skoda and Audi, it was also developed to enable it to be licensed to partner firms, helping the Volkswagen Group to achieve better economies of scale.
That volume could be key for Ford. While the Mustang Mach-E is due on sale in 2021, it has yet to announce further bespoke EV models, and the sale of the Volkswagen deal will likely prove key in meeting rising consumer demand and hitting its European Union CO2 targets.
As previously hinted at, the firms said that they “plan to explore additional ways to cooperate on electric vehicles.”