Ford has confirmed that it will build a “highly differentiated” electric car using Volkswagen Group’s MEB architecture as part of the now-formalized alliance between the two automakers.
Ford and VW Group announced Wednesday they had signed an agreement to work together after first unveiling plans in January 2019.
The automakers will also collaborate on a compact van built by VW brand, a midsize van developed by Ford, and a VW medium pickup built by Ford using its Ranger platform.
Ford’s MEB-based electric car will be designed and engineered at the automaker's European R&D center near Cologne, Germany, using the VW Group's underpinnings. The car will be available starting in 2023.
The automakers estimate sales of 600,000 units of Ford’s MEB-based derivative “over several years.”
Using the MEB architecture will allow Ford to accelerate the development of an affordable electric car for Europe. Starting in 2021 Ford will begin sales of the Mustang Mach-E full electric performance SUV, which will start at 46,900 euros, limiting its appeal to Ford’s traditional customer base.
Ford’s lack of an affordable electric vehicle will limit its appeal to fleet drivers, who are able to claim additional tax incentives for choosing an EV in key markets such as the UK.
Ford is considering whether to add a second MEB-based car, Ford of Europe President Stuart Rowley told Automotive News Europe in March. “We have an opportunity to do a second vehicle,” he said.
Rowley stressed that the Ford variants would be very different from MEB cars from the VW Group, which includes the Audi, Seat and Skoda brands. “We are very focused on the fact that these products will be Fords. They will look like a Ford, drive like a Ford, feel like a Ford and will be built by Ford,” he said. Ford, so far, has only said its MEB car will be built in Europe, and not given a location.
VW’s first MEB-based car is the ID3 full-electric compact. Deliveries of the car will start in September after delays due to software issues.
Prices for the launch edition of the ID3 will start below 40,000 euros ($45,484) in Germany, while a base version costing less than 30,000 euros is also planned.
The first vehicle planned from Ford and VW Group’s alliance is a compact van based on the latest VW Caddy. The van, which will be built by VW, is set to arrive 2021 and replace Ford’s Transit Connect.
A replacement for the VW Amarok pickup based on the Ford Ranger and built by Ford will follow in 2022.
Ford will also engineer a new midsize van for itself and VW that will replace VW’s Transporter model and Ford’s current Transit. No launch date was given.
The two companies said the alliance could result in the combined production of 8 million commercial vehicles during their life cycles.
An alliance between the two made sense, particularly in the current financial situation, VW Group CEO Herbert Diess said in a statement.
“In light of the COVID-19 pandemic and its impacts on the global economy,” he said, “more than ever it is vital to set up resilient alliances between strong companies.”