This is huge. We reported last year that Ford had made a major investment in Argo AI, which is developing self-driving systems for the coming generation of autonomous vehicles. Last week, Volkswagen independently bought its own stake in Argo AI last week, which was immediately followed by the announcement that Ford and Volkswagen have jointly formed a long-term alliance to develop new commercial vehicles, with an emphasis on electric and self-driving conveyances. It’s not a merger between the automotive titans, but instead an effort for a major sharing of expenses in acquiring these technologies, in an industry pounded by the COVID-19 pandemic and the ensuing global economic crisis. The first goal of the partnership will be to produce a medium-duty pickup for Volkswagen, probably based on the new Ford Ranger – does anybody remember Ford and Mazda doing something similar that begat the B2000? – that Volkswagen will sell as the Amarok by 2022. The next will be creation of an electric city delivery van based on the current Caddy sold by Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles, as shown below.
Following those vehicles, Ford and Volkswagen will then unveil a 1-ton cargo van designed by Ford, and Ford will introduce an all-new electric vehicle for the European market by 2023, based on Volkswagen’s MEB platform for EVs, which is also shared by Audi, SEAT and Skoda. The partners expect to sell up to 8 million of the pickup and new vans, including about 600,000 of the MEB-platform vehicles. Ford has already announced its intentions to produce all-electric versions of its Transit van and the F-150 pickup, America’s biggest-selling vehicle of any kind, likely by 2022. Late in April, Ford pulled the plug on plans to produce an electric SUV with EV startup Rivian, but Lincoln is still pursuing a possible technical alliance with that company.