Developing electric cars for scale in Europe takes time, money, resources and commitment. Volkswagen has the new, advanced MEB architecture designed just for that purpose. There are other automakers, though, who need to have an option. For Ford, that answer was simple. They already are working with VW on several projects, so it makes sense to expand that relationship into platform sharing.
In an announcement that also included VW’s investment into Argo AI, Volkswagen committed to providing 600,000 MEB units to Ford for a new electric vehicle that’ll be manufactured and sold within Europe. That includes all of the electric components, according to Dr. Herbert Diess, VW’s CEO. Ford’s CEO Jim Hackett said that it would be “built Ford proud.”
Both executives confirmed that they are working on a second agreement to provide more of these units to Ford for a second vehicle that is in the pipeline, though they were both limited on details for that product — other than they are in the planning stages.
The MEB platform is versatile. It works as high-volume city cars all the way up to camper vans. Hackett mentioned that the MEB vehicles that Ford produces will be “suited for European roads.” Customers in Europe expect a certain feel from the cars they buy that is different than what people in the United States do, so it makes sense to build a vehicle for that market there that is also tailored for it.
The first EV, a crossover, goes on sale in 2023.
Both executives confirmed that plans are still on track for building commercial vehicles and trucks for select global markets. Those markets include Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Asia Pacific and South America. The first vehicle of this joint project could be on the road as early as 2022.
Volkswagen’s investment in Argo ($2.6 billion in capital and assets), along with Ford’s existing investments, makes Argo AI a “technology platform company,” and they are working hard to develop and test autonomous systems. But, before all of that, VW and Ford’s relationship grows stronger with new products hitting the streets soon.