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VW platform in focus: VW and Ford begin alliance with electric and robotic cars


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New York (dpa) - Volkswagen and Ford want to join forces in the future also with electric vehicles and robot cars. The announced VW CEO Herbert Diess and Ford CEO Jim Hackett on Friday in New York.

As part of the extended alliance, VW will spend billions in Ford's Argo AI subsidiary for self-driving cars. In return, the Americans want to manufacture hundreds of thousands of vehicles for the European market on VW's e-car platform MEB.

"Our alliance with Ford is developing more and more promising. We're also exploring more ways to collaborate, "Diess told a press conference on Wall Street in Manhattan. "While Ford and Volkswagen remain independent competitors, working with both of them on Argo AI enhances performance, economies of scale, and geographic reach in autonomous driving," added Hackett.

Volkswagen will invest 2.6 billion dollars (2.3 billion euros) in Argo AI, the companies said. The amount comes from a billion dollars in funding, in addition, VW brings its own AID division for autonomous driving, which has 200 employees and is valued at 1.6 billion. The former AID headquarters in Munich will in future serve as the European headquarters of Argo AI.

The industry giants - VW is the world's largest carmaker, Ford the number two in America - are facing enormous challenges as a result of the technical change, like the entire industry. Silicon Valley tech giants such as Google's sister Waymo and Apple, as well as Tesla and Uber, are putting pressure on innovative future topics such as robot cars and electric drives.

In the future, Ford and VW will collectively and in equal parts own a substantial majority of the subsidiary, with the deal valued at $ 7 billion by Argo AI. Within the next three years, VW will also buy Ford, according to the announcement further Argo shares worth $ 500 million. The Americans also promise to continue investing vigorously.

However, the comparatively high rating received by Argo AI in the agreement between VW and Ford is attracting attention. Recently, it had been speculated about a good value of only about four billion dollars, VW engages for the participation so obviously deep in the bag. This is particularly noteworthy, as the high expectations for autonomous driving have been rather subdued by the industry lately. "You have to invest today to perhaps make the first turnovers in 2030," said car expert Ferdinand Dudenhöffer from the University of Duisburg-Essen.

Despite the high price that VW pays, Argo AI remains a rather small number compared to the leading companies in robot car development. For example, General Motors' subsidiary Cruise Automation recruited $ 19 billion of funds from its final round of financing for investors. Google's sister Waymo, who is considered a pioneer in technology, even credit analysts with a valuation of well over $ 100 billion.

As has been assumed for months, Ford has it in the cooperation in particular on the VW electric car kit MEB apart. The troubled European daughter of Ford is missing such a system so far. Faced with stricter CO2 emission regulations in the European Union from 2021, penalties could therefore be threatened.

Now it is clear: Ford will be the first car company, the Volkswagens MEB platform uses and wants to produce over six years, a total of more than 600,000 cars for the European market. VW itself will use the kit in the next ten years for 15 million cars. Ford drives in terms of e-cars but multi-track and is also involved in the Tesla rival Rivian. The development of electric cars and platforms is also expensive: VW has invested more than 6 billion euros in the MEB since 2016 claims.

VW and Ford had already decided in January to cooperate on light commercial vehicles and negotiated an extended partnership. That big auto companies make common cause is no longer a rarity in the face of high costs, regulatory pressures, lean profit margins and difficult market conditions. The arch rivals Daimler and BMW had allied themselves with robotic cars recently, in order to promote the technology for autonomous driving more cost-effectively.

The location question for a new VW plant in Eastern Europe is still open. The plans were "concretized, not finalized," said a spokesman for the VW Supervisory Board on Friday. Previously, the "Automobilwoche" had written that the Supervisory Board decided on Thursday to build the new multi-brand plant near Izmir in Turkey. According to information from the German Press Agency, the decision-making process could take some time.

VW supervisory board

Live stream of the press conference on Friday

Source: zeit

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