Ford and Volkswagen Announce Alliance; Joint Pickup Project Is a Go

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

Months of speculation and rumors came to an end in Detroit Tuesday, as auto giants Ford Motor Company and Volkswagen Group officially announced they will take their relationship to the next level.

After signing a Memorandum of Understanding last year, initially to explore joint commercial vehicle production, the two automakers now say their pact will birth a midsize pickup truck for global markets. Volkswagen Ranger, anyone?

The alliance doesn’t end there, but commercial vans and the aforementioned truck are the only joint products the two are willing to confirm at this point. It’s possible the efficiency-seeking companies could broaden their relationship to include electric vehicles, autonomous vehicles, and mobility services.

In a joint release, the automakers stated their intention “to develop commercial vans and medium-sized pickups for global markets beginning as early as 2022.”

Unlike the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance, this tie-up does not involve any cross-ownership between the two companies. Overseeing the partnership will be a joint committee, with VW CEO Herbert Diess and Ford CEO Jim Hackett sitting at the top, surrounded by execs from both companies.

“The alliance will drive significant scale and efficiencies and enable both companies to share investments in vehicle architectures that deliver distinct capabilities and technologies,” the automakers stated. “The companies estimate the commercial van and pickup cooperation will yield improved annual pre-tax operating results, starting in 2023.”

It became clear last fall that Volkswagen was interested in Ford’s pickup prowess, with Diess letting slip that ongoing talks between the two companies encompassed that possibility, as well as others. Indeed, the alliance may very well go in on EVs together, what with VW boasting a versatile electric vehicle architecture, as well as autonomous tech, which Ford has spent years and no shortage of bucks pursuing.

“Both companies also said they were open to considering additional vehicle programs in the future,” the joint statement read.

The timing of the truck production is interesting. Just last week, Road & Track published details on the next-generation Ford Ranger, tentatively due out in 2022. Meanwhile, Volkswagen’s overseas-market Amarok, a body-on-frame midsize pickup produced since 2010, is growing long in the tooth. The automaker registered the Amarok nameplate in the U.S. early last year.

Producing a next-gen Amarok using co-funded Ford bones would save VW money compared to a ground-up redesign, and these days VW is all about slashing costs to fund its EV product wave. That wave gets underway in earnest in the 2020-2022 time frame.

In this relationship, Ford would develop and build the VW-badged trucks. As for the commercial vehicles, Ford is also tasked with developing and building larger vans for the European market, while VW would develop and build a smaller city van. The companies insist the respective models will differ from each other in more ways than just a badge.

In a statement, Hackett said, “Over time, this alliance will help both companies create value and meet the needs of our customers and society. It will not only drive significant efficiencies and help both companies improve their fitness, but also gives us the opportunity to collaborate on shaping the next era of mobility.”

Diess echoed Hackett’s words, calling the alliance “a cornerstone for our drive to improve competitiveness.”

[Image: Ford Motor Company, VW Group]

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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  • Inside Looking Out Inside Looking Out on Jan 15, 2019

    Diess will eat Hackett for breakfast and then ask for more. Not even funny. Ford probably has too much cash stashed away that VW can use for the world domination.

  • Steve203 Steve203 on Jan 15, 2019

    There are a lot of moving parts, and the story is in no way finished. From what I have read during the day: The original plan was to have a live, joint, hour long presentation at the Detroit show this morning. That was canceled last night and replaced by a conference call. The news release about the truck tieup was already on the news wires at 8:30am, when the conference call was scheduled to start. Bill Ford was quoted that there may be additional information later this week. In the truck deal, all the vehicles that Ford leads will be produced in Ford plants. The vehicles VW leads on will be produced in VW plants. VW has decided Hannover and Emden will be it's electric vehicle centers. That means existing product needs to find a new home. So, the Transporter will move from Hannover to, in all probability, the Ford Transit plant in Turkey. The Amarok moves from Hannover to a Ford plant building the Ranger, my speculation: maybe Brazil, maybe the Ranger is added to the Turkish plant. The Passat moves from Emden to the Skoda plant in Kvasiny. Thing is, the Skoda plant is already going at full trot, so, to make room for the Passat, VW plans to move the Skoda Karoq and Seat Ateca (versions of the short wheelbase Tiguan) elsewhere. They want to move the Skoda and Seat models to somewhere in eastern Europe where the labor rates are comparable to Czech rates to maintain pricing. Currently examined options are: covert existing engine plant in Poland, convert existing engine plant in Hungary, greenfield plant in Romania, greenfield plant in Turkey. Ford has a plant in Romania, currently producing the Ecosport and appears to be running at less than 50% of capacity. My speculation is there may be negotiations to move the Skoda and Seat products that lose their home in Kvasiny into the Romanian Ford plant. Maybe that is the next shoe to drop, that Bill Ford was hinting at.

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    • Dtremit Dtremit on Jan 16, 2019

      @Steve203 The second-gen Ka was already a Fiat, so there's certainly a track record there. That said, my understanding is that the new Focus in Europe is based on a new universal FWD platform equivalent to VW's MQB. It's eventually expected to underpin basically everything from the Fiesta to the Edge. There wouldn't be much point in rebadging a MQB car if they can design their own with huge part sharing and run it down the same line as everything else.

  • Rust-MyEnemy Whoa, what the hell is wrong with Jalop1991 and his condescension? It's as if he's employed by Big Plug-In or something."I've seen plenty of your types on the forums....."Dunno what that means, but I'm not dead keen on being regarded as "A type" by a complete stranger"" I'm guessing you've never actually calculated by hand the miles you've driven against the quantity of gas used--which is your actual miles per gallon."Guess again. Why the hell would you even say that? Yes, I worked it out. Fill-to-fill, based on gas station receipts. And it showed me that a Vauxhall Astra PHEV, starting out with a fully charged PHEV battery, in Hybrid mode, on my long (234-mile) daily motorway daily commute, never, over several months, ever matched or beat the economy of the regular hybrid Honda Civic that I ran for a similar amount of time (circa 5000 miles)."You don't use gasoline at all for 30-40 miles as you use exclusively battery power, then your vehicle is a pure hybrid. Over 234 miles, you will have used whatever gas the engine used for 200 of those miles."At least you're right on that. In hybrid mode, though, the Astra was using battery power when it wasn't at all appropriate. The petrol engine very rarely chimed in when battery power was on tap, and as a result, the EV-mode range quickly disappeared. The regular hybrid Civic, though, deployed its very small electric reserves (which are used up quickly but restore themselves promptly), much more wisely. Such as when on a trailing throttle or on a downward grade, or when in stop-start traffic. As a result, at the end of my 234 miles, the Civic had used less gas than the Astra. Moreover, I hadn't had to pay for the electricity in its battery.I look forward to you arguing that what actually happened isn't what actually happened, but I was there and you were not."Regardless, that you don't understand it appears not to have stopped you from pontificating on it. Please, do us all a favor--don't vote."You really are quite unpleasant, aren't you. But thanks for the advice.
  • Tassos Jong-iL Electric vehicles are mandated by 2020 in One Korea. We are ahead of the time.
  • 1995_SC Can you still get some of the tax credits under the new program?
  • Analoggrotto HyundaiGenesisKia saw this coming a long time ago and are poised for hybrid and plug-in hybrid segment leadership:[list=1][*] The most extensive range of hybrids[/*][*]Highest hybrid sales proportion over any other model [/*][*]Best YouTube reviews [/*][*]Highest number of consumer reports best picks [/*][*]Class leading ATPs among all hybrid vehicles and PHEVs enjoy segment bearing eATPs[/*][/list=1]While some brands like Toyota have invested and wasted untold fortunes into full range electric lineups HyundaiKiaGenesis has taken the right approach here.
  • EBFlex The answer is yes. Anyone that says no is just….. wrong.But the government doesn’t want people to have that much freedom and the politicians aren’t making money off PHEVs or HEVs. So they will be stifled.