In a widely anticipated move, Ford and Volkswagen announced Friday their plan to expand their seven-month-old alliance to include autonomous and electric vehicles.
In January, the two auto industry powerhouses announced they would join forces to build pickup trucks and commercial vehicles, but today’s announcement is a much riskier step: it broadens that partnership to include two technologies — autonomy and electrification — that are seen as having the potential to transform the way people get around, but also has proven to be incredibly expensive and difficult to get right.
The deal also gives Argo a global reach. The company, which was founded by former Uber engineers with ties to Carnegie Melon University’s famed robotics lab, has been testing its cars with Ford’s backing in Pittsburgh, Detroit, Miami, and Washington, DC. Now it can also deploy its vehicles on European roads under VW’s guidance.
In addition, Ford will gain access to VW’s electric-vehicle MEB platform, or “Modulare E-Antriebs-Baukasten” — German for “modular electric drive matrix.” The company is betting big on its MEB platform, which will serve as the basis for the 15 million electric cars it hopes to eventually sell. Ford says it will use the platform to design and build at least one high-volume fully electric vehicle in Europe starting in 2023. The auto
maker aims to deliver more than 600,000 European vehicles using the MEB architecture over six years, with a second all-new Ford model for European customers under discussion. The move would help Ford comply with European government mandates that push electrified vehicles and strict emissions standards.
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