Ford, VW sig­nal plan to join forces

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - Trade Directory -

Ford and Volk­swa­gen are ex­plor­ing a pro­posal for a strate­gic al­liance to share de­vel­op­ment of sev­eral joint projects, in­clud­ing a range of com­mer­cial ve­hi­cles.

The two automotive gi­ants have re­leased a joint state­ment say­ing they had signed a mem­o­ran­dum of un­der­stand­ing to in­ves­ti­gate the pro­posal to work to­gether on po­ten­tial projects across sev­eral ar­eas.

The com­pa­nies – sell­ing more than 16 mil­lion ve­hi­cles a year be­tween them – said any such al­liance would not in­volve eq­uity ar­range­ments, such as cross own­er­ship.

The move could have long-term im­pli­ca­tions for Ford in Aus­tralia, where Ford Asia-pa­cific’s ve­hi­cle de­vel­op­ment op­er­a­tion heads de­vel­op­ment of one of Ford’s lead­ing global com­mer­cial ve­hi­cles, the Ranger.

Aus­tralian en­gi­neers have also worked on the Chi­nese mar­ket ver­sion of Ford’s Tran­sit van.

How­ever, Ford Aus­tralia com­mu­ni­ca­tions man­ager Jas­mine Mo­barek said it was too early to spec­u­late on any ef­fects such an ar­range­ment could have.

“Our mem­o­ran­dum of un­der­stand­ing cov­ers con­ver­sa­tions about po­ten­tial col­lab­o­ra­tions across a num­ber of ar­eas,” she said.

“For in­stance, we are ex­plor­ing how and whether to col­lab­o­rate on a range of com­mer­cial ve­hi­cles for cus­tomers. It is pre­ma­ture to share ad­di­tional de­tails at this time.”

Re­leased si­mul­ta­ne­ously in Detroit and Wolfs­burg, the state­ment in­di­cates the prime rea­son for such a col­lab­o­ra­tion was to cut costs and strengthen each other’s com­pet­i­tive­ness.

Most pun­dits be­lieve that any such deal would start with com­mer­cial vans, in­clud­ing the joint de­vel­op­ment of elec­tri­fied pow­er­trains and au­ton­o­mous con­trol for a new gen­er­a­tion of cargo lug­gers.

Ford and VW both have suc­cess­ful van ranges, with Ford’s Tran­sit fam­ily and VW’S Caddy, Trans­porter and Crafter all among the top-sell­ers in sev­eral mar­kets.

How­ever, with in­creas­ing com­pe­ti­tion from South Korea and China, the two com­pa­nies clearly feel they need to cut costs in the de­vel­op­ment phase to main­tain their com­pet­i­tive­ness.

Ford global mar­kets pres­i­dent Jim Far­ley said Ford was com­mit­ted to im­prov­ing fit­ness as a business and lever­ag­ing adap­tive business mod­els – which in­clude work­ing with part­ners to im­prove ef­fec­tive­ness and ef­fi­ciency.

“This po­ten­tial al­liance with the Volk­swa­gen Group is an­other ex­am­ple of how we can be­come more fit as a business, while creat­ing a win­ning global prod­uct port­fo­lio and ex­tend­ing our ca­pa­bil­i­ties,” he said.

“We look for­ward to ex­plor­ing with the Volk­swa­gen team how we might work to­gether to bet­ter serve the evolv­ing needs of com­mer­cial ve­hi­cle cus­tomers – and much more.”

Volk­swa­gen’s head of group strat­egy, Thomas Se­dran said mar­kets and cus­tomer de­mand were chang­ing at an in­cred­i­ble speed.

“Both com­pa­nies have strong and com­ple­men­tary po­si­tions in dif­fer­ent com­mer­cial ve­hi­cle seg­ments al­ready,” he said.

“To adapt to the chal­leng­ing en­vi­ron­ment, it is of ut­most im­por­tance to gain flex­i­bil­ity through al­liances.

“This is a core el­e­ment of our Volk­swa­gen Group Strat­egy 2025.

“The po­ten­tial in­dus­trial co-op­er­a­tion with Ford is seen as an op­por­tu­nity to im­prove com­pet­i­tive­ness of both com­pa­nies glob­ally.”

The com­pa­nies have promised to pro­vide up­dates and ad­di­tional de­tails as talks progress.

In Aus­tralia, Ford Asia-pa­cific de­sign­ers and en­gi­neers are work­ing on the next-gen­er­a­tion Ranger, along with its pas­sen­ger spin-offs, the Ever­est and Bronco.

So far, there is no sug­ges­tion that the Ranger and Volk­swa­gen’s Ar­gen­tinian-built equiv­a­lent, the Amarok, will be joined at the hip in a fu­ture de­vel­op­ment.

It is pos­si­ble, how­ever, that the two com­pa­nies could con­trib­ute var­i­ous as­pects to a fu­ture pick-up.

IN THE VAN: Ford and Volk­swa­gen vans might one day come from the same base un­der a pro­posal for a strate­gic al­liance now be­ing ne­go­ti­ated by the two mo­tor com­pa­nies.

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