It’s happened: Ford and VW are teaming up buddy-cop style to face the headwinds of electrification and autonomous vehicle technology. Their collaboration will no doubt save each company billions of dollars in development costs and possibly serve as a blueprint for other companies looking to do the same. These automakers may have just secured a viable path to prosperity going forward, a feat that will be considerably more difficult as we drift farther away from peak automobile with each passing day.
The details of the plan are actually pretty simple: Ford and VW are collaborating in three different areas: autonomous driving tech, electrification, and commercial vehicles. The first part involves VW becoming an equal stakeholder in Argo AI, which until now was Ford’s exclusive autonomous tech developer. The second aspect of the deal has Ford using VW’s modular electric vehicle platform for a European-only small car. Finally, each company will build commercial vehicles for one another. Ford’s next gen Ranger and Transit will spawn VW variants, while VW’s next gen city van will serve as the basis for a new Transit Connect.
It’s a pretty solid plan that is ambitious yet rational. And it got me thinking about other successful alliances. For this QOTD the definition of alliance will be porous. Basically any collaboration between two or more automakers that ostensibly compete against each other is fair game.
My personal pick is the Ford/Mazda/Volvo “partnership” that produced the second generation Ford Focus (for Europe), 2003 Mazda 3, and 2004 Volvo S40. In that example, three automakers got together and created a platform with very good driving dynamics. The platform saved each company a substantial amount of money and none of the cars were ever accused of being badge engineered. I’ll have more on this later, but Ford’s relationship with Mazda and Volvo may have been more important to the Blue Oval avoiding bankruptcy than anything else the company did around the time of the recession.
Anyway, that’s my contribution. What’s your favorite automotive alliance?