DETROIT — Volkswagen and Ford are nearing a framework agreement to join forces on electric and self-driving vehicles, capital-intensive areas that are reshaping the auto industry and straining automakers' finances across the globe.
As part of the pact, VW may invest in Ford's self-driving partner Argo AI, according to people familiar with the discussions. VW also is poised to share electric-vehicle technology, with Ford piggybacking onto the tens of billions of dollars that the German giant has committed to battery-powered autos, said the people, who asked not to be identified discussing confidential matters.
The possible investment in Argo is significant, as it could accelerate VW and Ford's self-driving efforts — a costly but crucially important element of the auto industry's future. Both automakers have been dogged by the perception they are lagging behind in developing the technology, and cooperation would allow them to share costs and potentially catch up faster.
Talks between VW and Ford have been constructive since the companies publicized them five months ago, and might firm up by the end of this year or early 2019, the people said. The two have said they don't plan a cross-shareholding arrangement like global partners Nissan and Renault.
VW declined to comment. Jennifer Flake, a Ford spokeswoman, said the company is talking with VW about potential collaboration across multiple areas and that it's premature to share additional details now.