By on January 9, 2019

Ford and Volkswagen, two auto giants who spent much of 2018 making eyes at each other and playfully batting away rumors (and sparking a few of their own), might lay their relationship bare in Detroit next week.

The two automakers have already signed a Memorandum of Understanding, partnering initially with the aim of developing joint light commercial vehicles. But that was just the start. Over the course of the past year, this partnership grew to include pickup swaps, electric vehicle platform sharing, joint U.S. plants, and God knows what else — at least according to rumors. Both companies made it clear something big was brewing, but always fell back to a “we’re just talking” line.

Now, it looks like we have a time and place for the announcement.

According to two sources who spoke to Reuters, the two companies plan to reveal a deeper partnership early next week, with one of the sources calling it a “global alliance.”

While neither automaker has confirmed such an announcement, Automotive News notes a suspicious slot in the North American International Auto Show’s media days itinerary. On Tuesday at 8:30 a.m., the events schedule shows the Cobo Center’s main stage playing host to a “pending industry announcement.” Show organizers aren’t saying which automaker or automakers booked the slot.

If Reuters‘ sources are to be believed, Ford and GM will combine their efforts in numerous product areas — and markets — in a bid to stay current and cut costs. Talks are apparently “going well.”

It’s known that Ford’s planning a significant global workforce cull in the near future, but the automaker hasn’t gone into specifics about the the number of cuts. Meanwhile, Volkswagen remains saddled with expenses brought on by its diesel affair and its forthcoming electric vehicle push. A tie-up could prove lucrative to both.

“It is premature to share additional details at this time,” a Ford spokesperson told Reuters.

At this point, Ford and VW have done as much to spur suspicion of a looming announcement as any source. This past summer, the two stated that, in addition to the joint commercial vehicle plan, other joint projects were under consideration. In December, VW CEO Herbert Diess, appearing in Washington DC, said his company was in “quite advanced negotiations and dialogue” with Ford, adding that the results of their talks could be good for the American auto industry.

[Image: Ford, Volkswagen]

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36 Comments on “Ford and Volkswagen Might Make NAIAS Their Big Coming-out Party...”

  • avatar

    Might want to correct this one:
    “If Reuters‘ sources are to be believed, Ford and GM will combine their efforts”

    I believe you mean, “Ford and Volkswagen”

  • avatar

    Ford F-150 badge-engineered Volkswagen Williwaw.

    • 0 avatar

      That’s funny! And, also likely to be true.

      Of course the other route is for VW to take their Tiguan approach to naming a new model. There have likely been deep discussions at Volkswagen on how to combine words like yeti & marmot, armadillo & antelope, yak & gazelle, or hedgehog & anaconda to create a new name that is truly forgettable while meaning nothing.

      VW still has the time-tested option of sticking to western towns in the great US West without deviating from the bizarre. Rough and Ready, Truth or Consequences, Ding Dong, Culdesac, or Slickpoo likely could still be trademarked.

  • avatar

    “…and cut costs.”

    Combine VW unreliability with the cash cow F-150. This can only end in tears.

  • avatar

    What good could come of this for customers? I hope this does not happen, for many reasons.

  • avatar

    So I looked in a cookbook and found a recipe for disaster. The first two ingredients were VW and Ford.

    So is all this the furniture salesman’s doing or the Ford family’s?

  • avatar

    Can I get an Atlas with the 3.5 EcoBoost? Even the 2.7 would be a nice option/ improvement. How about a special edition with some form of forced induction 5.0 under the hood….. Any of these options I’m in. Sign me up. Maybe Ford can pick up a few things about interiors from the VW group.

  • avatar

    This will give both greater political cover to cut massive #’s of employees.

    This is the real reason for any such tie-up, far more so than to increase plant/facility utilization.

  • avatar

    If there are synergies here, it is basically because Ford has the F-150 and US-style heavy SUVs (which VW does not have) and all the remaining passenger vehicles Ford builds all over the world are not profitable or inferior.

    We cannot expect the F-150 to ever do well in any market other than the US, because of its price and the US’s uniquely low gas prices and unwillingness to tax polluting and heavy vehicles.

    In short, the fact that this is talked about is a very sad assessment of the state that Ford is in.

    • 0 avatar

      I really think the future truck/SUV line up (Ranger, Bronco and Bronco II (III?)) will help them right the ship. Maybe the tie up will help minimize the number of layoffs by resetting some labor contracts and filling vacancies with the other’s excess employees. How about a Panamera (5 door) style Mustang? VW Group could help Ford make it drive well.

      • 0 avatar

        American automakers struggle to make credible cars.

        VW struggles to make credible larger vehicles for the US market and has NO trucks.

        VW has deep pockets.

        So an alliance benefits both, and allows the Ford family to continue to draw huge sums of money further into the future.

        VW also has a lot of family influence.

        So it makes sense.

        I want to know how your ‘sources’ find these things out.

      • 0 avatar

        Maybe. But right now, Ford equals US profits from F-150, and not much more…

    • 0 avatar

      Nice post, I think you have great insight into this.

  • avatar

    Great, now I can park my Ford for a month while the dealer waits for a part from Germany.

  • avatar

    I’d take a Skoda Scala rebadged as a Ford, or a Fabia hatch or combi.

  • avatar

    Merger of equals!

    (had to do it)

  • avatar

    Great move. Companies will split the costs of developing next gen tech and will help the other on foreign soil. Fords euro sales have been garbage for yrs and vw will no doubt start making trucks in the us. Hopefully reduced costs for ford can lead to reduced prices. Right now, they’re not competitive at all.

  • avatar

    Make no mistake VW wants more US market share. I suspect VW have a long term plan to buy out Ford if it can engineer a way to do it.

  • avatar

    Really not any news coming out of Ford lately that makes me want to buy another one, and I’ve owned Ford’s since the mid 90’s.

  • avatar

    In Cobo Hall on Tuesday January 15 at 8:31AM in full view of Ford officials and waiting industry reporters, Hans Dieter Pötsch, Chairman of the Volkswagen Supervisory Board, turned to Herbert Diess, CEO of Volkswagen, saying, “Herr Diess, I don’t think what we’re being offered here is worth a damn.”. With that comment the contingent from Volkswagen left the hall for return to Deutschland by private jet.

  • avatar

    Is there any historical evidence that any of these tie-ups have produced a superior vehicle? In theory, taking the best of both manufacturers should be great; in practice, not so much.

    VW is hopeless in North America, Ford is useless in Europe. Hopefully something positive comes out of this.

  • avatar

    Ford gets access to Volkswagen’s MQB, MLB, and MEB electrification architectures. Since they’re so flexible, VW essentially sells them the kit and Ford can reskin them pretty dramatically such that nobody really knows what’s under the hood. Saves Ford the investment in car platforms, especially electrification.

    Volkswagen gets greater economies of scale, and I wouldn’t be surprised if VW takes over some of the Ford factories being shuddered for additional capacity that will be needed. VW also, potentially, gets access to some of Ford’s SUV goodies.

    At the end of it, my gut tells me that VW has realized that the most cost effective way to extract more income from North America is to sell its car architectures to Ford. Sergio’s comments about platform sharing a few years ago were more prescient than many were willing to give him credit.

  • avatar

    Now I understand why Ford isn’t making cars anymore.

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