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

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]

Join the conversation
8 of 10 comments
  • 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.

    • See 4 previous
    • 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.

  • FreedMike Back in the '70s, the one thing keeping consumers from buying more Datsuns was styling - these guys were bringing over some of the ugliest product imaginable. Remember the F10? As hard as I try to blot that rolling aberration from my memory, it comes back. So the name change to Nissan made sense, and happened right as they started bringing over good-looking product (like the Maxima that will be featured in this series). They made a pretty clean break.
  • Flowerplough Liability - Autonomous vehicles must be programmed to make life-ending decisions, and who wants to risk that? Hit the moose or dive into the steep grassy ditch? Ram the sudden pile up that is occurring mere feet in front of the bumper or scan the oncoming lane and swing left? Ram the rogue machine that suddenly swung into my lane, head on, or hop up onto the sidewalk and maybe bump a pedestrian? With no driver involved, Ford/Volkswagen or GM or whomever will bear full responsibility and, in America, be ambulance-chaser sued into bankruptcy and extinction in well under a decade. Or maybe the yuge corporations will get special, good-faith, immunity laws, nation-wide? Yeah, that's the ticket.
  • FreedMike It's not that consumers wouldn't want this tech in theory - I think they would. Honestly, the idea of a car that can take over the truly tedious driving stuff that drives me bonkers - like sitting in traffic - appeals to me. But there's no way I'd put my property and my life in the hands of tech that's clearly not ready for prime time, and neither would the majority of other drivers. If they want this tech to sell, they need to get it right.
  • TitaniumZ Of course they are starting to "sour" on the idea. That's what happens when cars start to drive better than people. Humanpilots mostly suck and make bad decisions.
  • Inside Looking Out Why not buy Bronco and call it Defender? Who will notice?