Volkswagen Might Put Audi on the Back Burner, Spend More Time With Ford: Report

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
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volkswagen might put audi on the back burner spend more time with ford report

According to sources who spoke to Reuters, Volkswagen Group has more interest in pursuing technological relationships with new partners, especially Ford, than continuing on with Audi as its main development hub. At least for a while.

VW CEO Herbert Diess will reportedly unveil a 10-year plan to his company’s board later this month, part of an efficiency initiative born of diesel fines and the need to stay ahead of rivals. While the move would lessen Audi’s importance in the group, VW would stand to save big on R&D costs. Meanwhile, Ford might get access to VW’s electric vehicle architecture.

“The strategy plan doesn’t only cover the next five years, but looks a decade ahead,” one of the sources said.

The proposal reportedly focuses on — what else? — autonomous and electric vehicle development, which no automaker can be without these days. Ford isn’t the only potential technology partner, but it gets top billing in this report. The two automakers already have a partnership that’s pretty wide-ranging in scope, though neither company has come out and said exactly where the tie-up will take them.

An Audi spokesman told Reuters there’s been no decision made on Audi’s role as the group’s autonomous driving developer. The division rolled out its latest driver-assist features in the new A8 earlier this year.

While autonomy can wait, at least for a bit, electric vehicle are a much more pressing matter in hyper-regulated Europe, as well as markets like China. VW has them almost ready to go; Ford, not so much. The Blue Oval brand took it on the chin in Europe in the last fiscal quarter, and VW’s dedicated MEB electric architecture would provide the company with the basis for a range of potentially profitable small electric cars.

In exchange for this, the sources claim, Ford might provide VW with something it desperately needs: a truck platform, and the engines to go with it. Alternatively, VW might invest in Ford’s self-driving efforts in exchange for the MEB platform.

As both automakers remain tight-lipped about the potential fruits of their partnership, we’re left waiting until VW’s Nov. 16 supervisory board meeting to see what Diess puts on the table.

[Images: Volkswagen Group]

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  • Davekaybsc Davekaybsc on Nov 03, 2018

    I don't imagine Henry would love the fact that Ford decided to take their toys and go home because making anything other than SUVs and pickups is like, really hard. That, and what's become of Lincoln. I recently saw a 1938 Lincoln Model K V-12 touring coupe at a museum in California, that was the S-class coupe of its era. Compared to that, the modern, recently abandoned Continental doesn't come within a mile.

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    • Sportyaccordy Sportyaccordy on Nov 05, 2018

      @raph "What are Lincolns these days except a ploy by Ford to get old codgers to cough up a few extra dollars on slightly different shared platforms." The most successful Lexuses & Audis are the same thing and have been succeeding for over 20 years. Platforms don't have to be bespoke and RWD to be appropriate for luxury cars... if they did, Cadillac and Jaguar would not be knocking on heaven's doors. 99% of luxury customers don't give a crap about platforms; they buy on brand, experience and (relative) value.

  • WallMeerkat WallMeerkat on Nov 05, 2018

    I do think Skoda would be an easy fix for those missing Ford's cars. The Octavia could replace the Focus and Superb as Fusion. Federalisation should be straightforward as they are basically Golf/Passat based. Or perhaps some SEATs, the Leon is close in spirit to the Focus. Not sure if they could or would federalize a Fabia/Polo/Ibiza/A1.

    • Dtremit Dtremit on Nov 05, 2018

      Ford doesn't have a shortage of federalized platforms to sell here; they have a shortage of willingness to do so. I wouldn't be surprised to see a Passat-derived Mondeo replacement outside of NA, though.

  • Akear They sell only 20,000 Mustang EVs a year. They better keep the current Mustang!
  • Jkross22 We're thinking about the 500e all wrong. This is a 'new' old car. All of the tooling and R&D is done. Easy way to move an 'Italian' car up market and boost fleet MPG. Plus... dealers can move all unsold models into demo/fleet usage so when Jeep and Durango owners come in for service, they can use this as a loaner.
  • Namesakeone Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy. A light truck coming from Ford. We have never seen anything like it. (This is me trying to sound like I'm excited.)
  • Jkross22 I remember when cars came from the factory without looking like it had a fart can exhaust installed. This is not an attractive car. The paint looks great, but the design, wheels and interior look off-lease Infiniti. I'll guess: 6 grand down, $1000/month with 7.5k miles/year.
  • FreedMike Newsflash: your car may not get the mileage it is rated for, and it doesn't matter whether it's powered by petroleum or electricity. Things like elevation, your driving habits, and load make range vary. And you didn't even have to spend any money with Consumer Reports to figure that out. Thank me anytime.