Volkswagen and Ford recently announced that they are expanding their global alliance to include electric vehicles. It has also been revealed that they will collaborate with Argo AI to introduce autonomous vehicle technology in the US and Europe – positioning both companies to better serve customers while improving their competitiveness and cost and capital efficiencies.
Working together with Ford and Volkswagen, Argo AI’s self-driving system (SDS) is the first with commercial deployment plans for Europe and the US. Plus, being able to tap into both automakers’ global reach, Argo AI’s platform has the largest geographic deployment potential of any autonomous driving technology to date. Volkswagen and Ford independently will integrate Argo AI’s SDS into purpose-built vehicles to support the distinct people and goods movement initiatives of both companies.
Argo AI’s focus remains on delivering a SAE Level 4-capable SDS to be applied for ride sharing and goods delivery services in dense urban areas. Ford and Volkswagen will have an equal stake in Argo AI, and combined, the brands will own a substantial majority. Company leaders also announced Ford will become the first additional automaker to use Volkswagen’s dedicated electric vehicle architecture and Modular Electric Toolkit – or MEB – to deliver a high-volume zero-emission vehicle in Europe starting in 2023.
Ford expects to deliver more than 600,000 European vehicles using the MEB architecture over six years, with a second all-new Ford model for European customers under discussion. This supports Ford’s European strategy, which involves continuing to play on its strengths – including commercial vehicles, compelling crossovers and imported popular vehicles such as the Mustang and the Explorer.
Volkswagen started developing its MEB architecture in 2016, investing approximately $7 billion in this platform. The car-maker is planning to use this platform to build approximately 15 million cars for the Volkswagen Group alone in the next decade. For Ford, using Volkswagen’s MEB architecture is part of its more than $11.5 billion investment in electric vehicles worldwide – and supports Ford’s commitment to offer its European customers a broad range of electric vehicles while meeting its sustainability commitments.
The companies also are on track to deliver medium pickup trucks for global customers, aiming to start in 2022, followed by commercial vans. Coming back to the autonomous tech, both automakers see significant potential, including profitable growth by tapping new business areas tied to autonomous technology. Argo AI plans to work closely with Ford and Volkswagen to provide the autonomous vehicle technology the automakers need to deliver fully integrated self-driving vehicles that can be manufactured at scale for safe, reliable and durable deployment in ride sharing and goods delivery services.