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Reports: Ford, VW eyeing venture to build self-driving vehicles

By
Ed Adamczyk
Ford Motor Company and Volkswagen are discussing a possible alliance to build electric and autonomous vehicles, reports said this week. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI
Ford Motor Company and Volkswagen are discussing a possible alliance to build electric and autonomous vehicles, reports said this week. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

Nov. 2 (UPI) -- Volkswagen and Ford are in talks to join forces and build electric and autonomous vehicles, industry watchers and German media report.

An announcement is expected soon, which would unite the world's largest vehicle manufacturer, Volkswagen, with the fifth-largest, Ford, in future-oriented projects.

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The reduction of costs of development, Ford's slow start in the electric vehicles market and the softening of Ford sales in Europe may be driving the potential collaboration, German newspaper Handelblatt reported.

The partnership could be announced as early as mid-November, The Wall Street Journal reported.

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Volkswagen and Ford said in June a development and production alliance was being discussed. Earlier this week, Volkswagen CFO Frank Witter expanded the company's interest in teaming up with competitors.

Asked if that meant Ford could build its own cars on the platform of Volkswagen's MEB electric car, Witter said, "Whether we might provide access to other brands outside of the VW Group is theoretically possible, but there is no decision."

Volkswagen's first electric cars are set to be produced at its Zwickau, Germany, plant in November 2019. The company is planning 27 electric models and 10 million cars across its Volkswagen, Audi, Skoda and Seat brands.

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Ford CEO Jim Hackett and Volkswagen chief Herbert Diess mentioned potential collaboration during third-quarter earnings calls. Both automakers predicted a decision by Dec. 31.

"The prospect of Volkswagen and Ford partnering on electric vehicles and autonomous vehicles has the potential to be truly game-changing," marketing analyst and adviser Jon Gabrielson told the Detroit Free Press. "It enables them to pool the best minds of each company around these exciting future growth products."

Volkswagen is still saddled with legal and replacement costs and a tarnished image resulting from its emissions cheating scandal. Consumer advocates in Germany filed a class action lawsuit Thursday immediately after a new law took effect permitting it. The suit is the first of its kind in Germany's history.

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