Ford, VW deepen alliance: $2.6B self-driving investment and an EV

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Ford Chief Executive Jim Hackett said at a news briefing on Friday in NY he expects "chimneys of data that will be spewing from the vehicles" that will use Argo's self-driving technology.

The latest iteration of the Ford-VW alliance suggests the German automaker may hold the more lucrative cards - for now.

Outside of autonomous technology, Ford will use Volkswagen's electric vehicle platform to launch a new zero-emission auto in Europe in 2023, part of the company's $11.5 billion investment in electric vehicles. "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 VW CEO Herbert Diess. Volkswagen had agreed to share its MEB electric auto chassis with Ford.

"A VW investment in Ford's AV business would provide a crucial public validation data point (similar to SoftBank's investment in GM Cruise), and could be just the start of external capital for Ford's AV business", Schwarz said.

With electric and autonomous vehicles driving the biggest shake-up in the automotive sector in a century, the enormous costs of developing these ground-breaking technologies is forcing even the biggest players to form alliances to share the financial strain.

Ford created Ford Autonomous Vehicles LLC in 2018, pledging to invest $4 billion until 2023 and has sought outside investors to help share the spiraling cost of developing autonomous vehicles.

- Ride-hailing company Uber joined with Toyota to build autonomous vehicles previous year.

VW said it had committed $7 billion to its MEB platform, which is expected to underpin 15 million vehicles worldwide from the VW group over the next decade. Volkswagen will officially open up use of its MEB scalable electric-vehicle platform, which Ford will use for an all-new EV model that's aimed to go on sale in 2023.

ArgoAI CEO Brian Salesky commented on the company's investments stating: "Thanks to Ford and VW, our technology could reach almost every global market, could applied to multiple vehicle brands a variety of vehicle platforms".

Sharing the MEB platform with other automakers will increase volume to spread development costs and make EVs "more affordable for consumers, and be better for the environment", said VW CEO Herbert Diess.

The two companies announced plans in January to collaborate on developing commercial vans and medium-sized pickup trucks while exploring electric and autonomous vehicles together. Ford will also engineer and build a large commercial van for both automakers for Europe. They're also under pressure to release electric vehicles in markets such as China and Europe to meet tougher pollution limits. Ford shares were up 0.4% to $10.15 as of 1:25 p.m. Thursday in NY.

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