Ford is in talks with Google to build the internet giant’s planned autonomous car, according to reports.
Automotive News reports that the Blue Oval and Google are currently in high-level discussions that would see Ford produce Google’s car under contract, with sources claiming a manufacturing deal between the two parties has been developing “for some time”.
Speaking to the industry paper, a Ford spokesman would neither confirm nor deny the deal, saying: “We work with a lot of tech companies all over the world. We keep these discussions private for obvious competitive reasons and we do not comment on speculation.”
A Google spokesperson said the company would not comment on speculation, but earlier this year Google co-founder Sergey Brin said the company was looking to partner with manufacturers.
Former Ford boss Alan Mulally and former Hyundai America chief John Krafcik have both joined Google in recent times. Mulally is currently on Google’s board of directors, while Krafcik was hired to head up the company’s driverless car project.
An official announcement on the deal could come as early as January at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
The agreement could result in a new joint venture, which is legally separate from Ford, shielding the Blue Oval from potential liability. The deal could also be non-exclusive, meaning Google could also negotiate more deals with other car makers.
While Google would get access to Ford’s manufacturing scale as part of the deal, Ford would also benefit from Google’s self-driving technology and software development.
Rumours of Google wanting to develop its own autonomous car date back to 2013, but it wasn’t until last year that the company unveiled its first autonomous prototype.