“As someone with less than two years in the industry, it’s my opinion that you can’t do this alone,” Ford CEO Jum Hackett said on a conference call with media and analysts. “We believe this fundamental shift is healthy. It allows us to focus on our strengths while at the same time, offer many competitive options.”
Both automakers ruled out any cross ownership, and Hackett stressed they would remain “two separate and distinct companies.”
Hackett declined to say what plants the companies will utilize, while Diess said it’s possible vans could be built in Ford's plant in Turkey. The companies both said they are open to working on additional vehicle programs.
The two sides also signed a memorandum of understanding "to investigate collaboration on autonomous vehicles, mobility services and electric vehicles."
Diess said the automakers are looking at combining their autonomous vehicle development, including Ford-owned Argo AI, as well as VW research groups in Wolfsburg and Munich. On the EV side, Ford is looking to utilize VW’s MEB platform.
“It’s an attractive area,” Hackett said. “Both the EV and AV are big costs for investment. Both are really important to both companies’ future. That is part of the incentive to find ways to cooperate.”
Citing privacy for competitive reasons, Hackett declined to say when Ford or VW may make further announcements related to AV or EV development, saying the memorandum of understanding “gives us the cover to do this work behind the scenes.”
“I would not make the assumption we haven’t reached any kinds of agreements,” Hackett said. “There’s more order to it than what’s coming through today.”
It’s unclear how, if at all, the companies’ workforces in the United States would be affected. Hackett declined to comment on any shuffling of jobs.