By on July 12, 2019

Developing electric cars for scale in Europe takes time, money, resources and commitment. Volkswagen has the new, advanced MEB architecture designed just for that purpose. There are other automakers, though, who need to have an option. For Ford, that answer was simple. They already are working with VW on several projects, so it makes sense to expand that relationship into platform sharing.

In an announcement that also included VW’s investment into Argo AI, Volkswagen committed to providing 600,000 MEB units to Ford for a new electric vehicle that’ll be manufactured and sold within Europe. That includes all of the electric components, according to Dr. Herbert Diess, VW’s CEO. Ford’s CEO Jim Hackett said that it would be “built Ford proud.”

Both executives confirmed that they are working on a second agreement to provide more of these units to Ford for a second vehicle that is in the pipeline, though they were both limited on details for that product — other than they are in the planning stages.

The MEB platform is versatile. It works as high-volume city cars all the way up to camper vans. Hackett mentioned that the MEB vehicles that Ford produces will be “suited for European roads.” Customers in Europe expect a certain feel from the cars they buy that is different than what people in the United States do, so it makes sense to build a vehicle for that market there that is also tailored for it.

The first EV, a crossover, goes on sale in 2023.

Both executives confirmed that plans are still on track for building commercial vehicles and trucks for select global markets. Those markets include Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Asia Pacific and South America. The first vehicle of this joint project could be on the road as early as 2022.

Volkswagen’s investment in Argo ($2.6 billion in capital and assets), along with Ford’s existing investments, makes Argo AI a “technology platform company,” and they are working hard to develop and test autonomous systems. But, before all of that, VW and Ford’s relationship grows stronger with new products hitting the streets soon.


[Image: Ford]

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13 Comments on “Ford to Use VW Electric Vehicle Platform in Europe, Truck Collaboration on Track...”

  • avatar

    From the opening sentence, I take this as a sign that people are finally realizing that an electric car is not as simple as replacing the engine with an electric motor, and the gas tank with a battery.

    Anyone who has followed the ups and downs of Tesla already knew that. For others, I will paraphrase a certain someone: “Nobody knew electric and self-driving cars could be so complicated!”

  • avatar

    Finally, Hackett got somebody to pony up some $$. Whoever figures out this autonomous stuff first will be able to sell the technology to everyone. Lots of billions of dollars being spent all over the place, perhaps the “crowdfunding” by Google, Apple and others will lead to some breakthroughs, but I don’t see why auto companies have to do the same.

    Maybe VW could give a decent sedan platform back to Ford.

  • avatar
    R Henry

    I believe “alliances” and “partnerships,” and “outsourcing” within the automotive sphere will become increasingly risky going forward.

    The problems will become apparent when cutting-edge automotive products fail as a result of engineering or production errors. There will be endless finger pointing, lawsuits, catastrophic financial settlements/penalties–levied against both/all alliance members/partners and subcontractors… regardless of where the error was based. OEMs will be forced to realize that subcontracting and alliances leave too much in the hands of others outside their companies, and they will work to consolidate all aspects of design and production back under their own roofs.

    Word has been seeping out about the Boeing Max8 software problems, and how they were created. Bloomberg and WSJ recently ran stories claiming that the MCAS software was written by Indian subcontractors–as a cost saving measure. Such contractors will work for $9.00/hr!!

    These are early reports, but if even only partly true, the situation illustrates the great risk OEMs take when relying on contractors, or partnerships/alliances for developing their products.

    I believe the companies who are least dependent on outsourcing, alliances, and partnerships have the most potential for success.

    • 0 avatar

      So all that Boeing could come by in this mission critical application is to hire poorly educated cheap “Indian contractors” to rite code? Then they got what they deserve. They should ask me about what Indian contractors are capable off. I am sure Airbus would never do that – Europeans have more pride in their products and are more quality obsessed.

    • 0 avatar

      This might turn out to be more of a manufacturer/supplier relationship, which I think would de-complicate things.

      I also think this is the world we live in. Automakers need to figure out what their core competencies are and focus their efforts on that. If they have gaps in their product line, they can call on a partner who has already done the expensive stuff to provide the backbone. Or they can just exit the segment entirely.

      Not every car maker needs to make every type of car to be profitable. Nike doesn’t make wingtip oxfords and Brooks Brothers doesn’t make gym shorts and they do just fine. Even in the age of platform sharing between cars and crossovers, it still costs a lot to develop a model, and it may just not be worth it.

      Curious to see how this turns out.

  • avatar

    Ford is on track to become a business that exclusively makes pickup trucks for the US market.

    Downside: the pickup truck market outside the US is very small, and few countries combine low gas prices with a regulatory regime that is very friendly to pickup trucks. Upside: the US pickup truck market is insanely profitable.

    • 0 avatar

      Ford has been that for decades. They haven’t made a good car (or truck for that matter) for a very long time

    • 0 avatar

      It’d be far easier to convert the rest of the world into pickup truck lovers. They already like their vans, and starting to come around on midsize pickups, many of those by Ford.

      They don’t really blur the line between “work vehicles” and personal use, but North America didn’t either, or as much as right now.

      Even if not as *potentially* profitable, there’s far less risk in re-branding cars/sedans that already sell great (in a particular market, well established, etc) as your own autos.

      At least that gets your foot in the door, with cars with just the right “stink”.

      • 0 avatar

        I don’t see the rest of the world coming around to pickup trucks ever. Problems are

        1) Lower incomes abroad will make it hard to afford a gas guzzler
        2) Industrialized nations have higher gas prices than the US
        3) Roads and parking are not suitable for pickups
        4) Foreign governments are less pollution/gas guzzler friendly than the US and will impose sales taxes on F150 type trucks (Example: a ford Ranger in The Netherlands costs $70K including VAT)

        Basically, pickups are still alive in the US because of cheap gas and our regulatory system.

        • 0 avatar

          Yes they’ll probably never set the world on fire, especially not the Netherlands, but a few hundred or thousands of fullsize pickup sales annually in hundreds of countries, many of them wealthy or have wealthy pockets, collectively, it’s totally possible to have total global sales rivaling or exceeding US sales or at least demand, barring big tariffs, like what they’re hit with entering Europe (10-22%).

          Besides, just about anywhere midsize pickup sell well, fullsize pickups would not be that much more expensive to buy or fuel. In some cases it would be less.

          But midsize pickups aren’t that easy to park, never mind Sprinter vans and similar. Plus I don’t know of many place with parking spaces smaller than right here in the US.

          Sure it would have to start with commercial use/acceptance, right alongside vans and flatbed van-conversions around the world, before the mainstream, but I don’t see a compelling reason why it’s not totally possible eventually.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Those are big numbers. The only serious EV players (with original designs) are turning out to be Tesla and VW.

  • avatar

    What could possibly go wrong?

  • avatar

    This is the new American way, which is to let other countries do the hard core engineering and design. After that just slap your name on the foreign designed product.

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