Redesigns of their rival Sharan and Galaxy minivans has led to friction between Volkswagen and Ford and resulted in a delayed start of production for Ford's new Galaxy.
The two models are built in the same plant in Palmela, Portugal.
The new Sharan is already in production, but Job One for the facelifted Galaxy is now due at the end of this month, instead of early March as originally planned.
Galaxy will debut in the United Kingdom and Germany in late June or early July. But Ford is not certain when it will have enough cars for other European markets.
The discord between the two companies comes a year after Ford sold its stake in the Palmela plant to VW. VW is now sole owner of the plant.
VW has taken advantage of its position by beginning production of its redesigned Sharan first. The first Sharans have already been made and the car will be launched in the UK in early May and Germany in late May.
Said one Ford official privately: 'It is not very pleasant being a customer in another manufacturer's plant and having to beg for cars.'
Sources say the problems began when the two companies were preparing their interior designs about 18 months ago. Two weeks after Volkswagen executives saw Ford's design they announced a short delay in finalizing VW's own tooling orders. Soon afterwards VW showed a completely redesigned interior.
The changes and subsequent delay in the Sharan schedule forced a postponement in Ford's plans for the Galaxy since VW intended to launch its version first.
Shortly before the Geneva auto show in March, VW notified Ford there might be a slight delay in Ford's Job One.
The two companies could not agree on whether the twin minivans should be shown in Geneva.
Ford of Europe Chairman Nick Scheele finally decided that Ford would go ahead and show the car whether VW was ready or not. Sources say that VW boss Ferdinand Piëch only learned two days before the show that Ford would show the Galaxy. So he gave his teams orders to prepare a Sharan prototype just two days before the show opened.
Ford had four Galaxys on display at Geneva floor while VW had only one.
A Volkswagen spokesman declined to comment.
VW has begun production of its new Sharan and has been holding drives for members of the automotive press. VW will roll out the new model first in the United Kingdom, a traditionally strong market for Galaxy. Ford will not hold its press drives until late June or early July, after which the vehicle will go on sale in the UK and Germany.
The two companies are under renewed pressure to have their minivans perform well in the marketplace. Both VW and Ford delayed plans to launch a compact minivan after seeing the Opel/Vauxhall Zafira, which took the market by storm with its flexible seven-seat configuration.
The larger minivans must therefore fill the gap until the smaller ones come along. Ford has not decided whether to make the Galaxy on a Mondeo platform when the current model fades away in three or four years.