Ford Cautious but Optimistic Ahead of Key Volkswagen Meeting

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
ford cautious but optimistic ahead of key volkswagen meeting

Volkswagen’s supervisory board meets Friday to discuss how to handle the next decade of vehicle development, with CEO Herbert Diess expected to present a strategy that includes Ford as a key partner. The two automakers already have a Memorandum of Understanding with an eye on commercial vehicles, but VW could take the relationship further. Much further.

Ford’s Jim Hackett admits the talks are going well, but the CEO isn’t about to leap into bed without taking precautions.

Telling Reuters that he’s open to rival automakers’ cash when it comes to autonomous vehicles, Hackett said that any expansion of its partnership with VW would be a “delicate dance.”

On commercial vehicles, Hackett said the discussion is “going better than we thought it would,” adding that, “Herbert and I had a great discussion.” With sources already whispering to media about potential platform swaps, VW assisting Ford in Europe and Latin America, the Germans gaining access to the Ranger platform, and Ford borrowing VW’s electric MEB bones, the future contains a range of possibilities for the two companies. Hackett’s approaching it with caution, claiming no deal has been made.

“We compete in a bunch of areas as well,” he said.

Ford faces stiff competition in the autonomous vehicle field. GM-owned Cruise hopes to have a commercial self-driving ride-hailing fleet in service next year, while Waymo, backed by a promise of boatloads of Chrysler Pacificas, plans to cautiously enter that realm in December. Ford’s controlling stake in self-driving startup Argo AI is just part of its broader autonomous efforts, with the company entering into pilot programs with companies offering home delivery. Think pizzas and dry cleaning.

One goal, however, is for Ford Autonomous Vehicles to give birth to a versatile ride-hailing fleet of its own, using vehicles developed by Ford.

[Image: Ford Motor Company]

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  • Big Al from Oz Big Al from Oz on Nov 15, 2018

    Well its very evident that VAG will have the upper hand in these negotiations. Ford is limited in what it can offer VAG. VAG has the world very much stitched up compared to Ford. Ford might have the F Series, but these are very reliant on heavy protectionism and are not viable globally. Will Ford become subservient to VAG in any arrangement? Will VAG force Ford to adopt a more efficient business structure? Ford needs a new org chart made and to lean operations to become competitive globally, like GM. The world has changed and is changing rapidly, US industry need to get on board and start leaning operations and outsourcing what they are not efficient at.

  • SPPPP SPPPP on Nov 15, 2018

    This potential partnership is kind of funny in light of what I was thinking about the VW Passat recently - it's like a better version of the Ford Taurus. Someone also pointed out that the Fusion is somewhat Germanic in character, which is another interesting thing. But that car is going away, so, oh well.

  • Max So GM will be making TESLAS in the future. YEA They really shouldn’t be taking cues from Elon musk. Tesla is just about to be over.
  • Malcolm It's not that commenters attack Tesla, musk has brought it on the company. The delivery of the first semi was half loaded in 70 degree weather hauling potato chips for frito lay. No company underutilizes their loads like this. Musk shouted at the world "look at us". Freightliners e-cascads has been delivering loads for 6-8 months before Tesla delivered one semi. What commenters are asking "What's the actual usable range when in say Leadville when its blowing snow and -20F outside with a full trailer?
  • Funky D I despise Google for a whole host of reasons. So why on earth would I willing spend a large amount of $ on a car that will force Google spyware on me.The only connectivity to the world I will put up with is through my phone, which at least gives me the option of turning it off or disconnecting it from the car should I choose to.No CarPlay, no sale.
  • William I think it's important to understand the factors that made GM as big as it once was and would like to be today. Let's roll back to 1965, or even before that. GM was the biggest of the Big Three. It's main competition was Ford and Chrysler, as well as it's own 5 brands competing with themselves. The import competition was all but non existent. Volkswagen was the most popular imported cars at the time. So GM had its successful 5 brands, and very little competition compared to today's market. GM was big, huge in fact. It was diversified into many other lines of business, from trains to information data processing (EDS). Again GM was huge. But being huge didn't make it better. There are many examples of GM not building the best cars they could, it's no surprise that they were building cars to maximize their profits, not to be the best built cars on the road, the closest brand to achieve that status was Cadillac. Anyone who owned a Cadillac knew it could have been a much higher level of quality than it was. It had a higher level of engineering and design features compared to it's competition. But as my Godfather used to say "how good is good?" Being as good as your competitors, isn't being as good as you could be. So, today GM does not hold 50% of the automotive market as it once did, and because of a multitude of reasons it never will again. No matter how much it improves it's quality, market value and dealer network, based on competition alone it can't have a 50% market share again. It has only 3 of its original 5 brands, and there are too many strong competitors taking pieces of the market share. So that says it's playing in a different game, therfore there's a whole new normal to use as a baseline than before. GM has to continue downsizing to fit into today's market. It can still be big, but in a different game and scale. The new normal will never be the same scale it once was as compared to the now "worlds" automotive industry. Just like how the US railroad industry had to reinvent its self to meet the changing transportation industry, and IBM has had to reinvent its self to play in the ever changing Information Technology industry it finds it's self in. IBM was once the industry leader, now it has to scale it's self down to remain in the industry it created. GM is in the same place that the railroads, IBM and other big companies like AT&T and Standard Oil have found themselves in. It seems like being the industry leader is always followed by having to reinvent it's self to just remain viable. It's part of the business cycle. GM, it's time you accept your fate, not dead, but not huge either.
  • Tassos The Euro spec Taurus is the US spec Ford FUSION.Very few buyers care to see it here. FOrd has stopped making the Fusion long agoWake us when you have some interesting news to report.