Ford, VW to detail commercial pickup partnership Tuesday

Ford, VW to detail commercial pickup partnership Tuesday
Ian Thibodeau, The Detroit News Published 2:29 p.m. ET Jan. 11, 2019 | Updated 2:40 p.m. ET Jan. 11, 2019

Ford Motor Co. and Volkswagen AG are planning to partner on the joint production of commercial pickups as the automakers continue their broad-ranging discussions on global partnership
Ford Motor Co. and Volkswagen AG are planning to partner on the joint production of commercial pickups as the automakers continue their broad-ranging discussions on global partnership (Photo: Paul Sancya / Associated Press)

Ford Motor Co. and Volkswagen AG are planning to partner on the joint production of commercial pickups as the automakers continue their broad-ranging discussions on global partnership.

Volkswagen’s governing supervisory board approved a piece of the partnership Friday in a board meeting in Germany, according to two sources with knowledge of the situation. The automakers are expected to offer details Tuesday on parts of their agreement — and what they are continuing to discuss — during the Detroit auto show, the sources said.

Ford is a leading manufacturer of pickups in the U.S., producing the perennially best-selling F-150 and Super Duty pickups. Through its commercial vehicles division, VW has a slow-selling Amarok pickup in Europe. The partnership to develop pickups would allow Ford to expand its commercial vehicle lineup in Europe, and give VW a stronger model in its lineup.

It was unclear Friday if a jointly developed commercial truck would be offered for sale outside of Europe.

Steven Armstrong, Ford’s president of Europe, Middle East and Africa, said Thursday that Ford saw value in VW’s European plants which Ford would utilize to boost its lucrative commercial vehicle sales there. He said Ford would look to expand its commercial vehicle footprint in Europe to boost the automaker’s struggling business unit there.

The automakers are negotiating other partnerships, including an alliance on autonomous vehicles, according to the sources. Deutsche Press Agentur and Handelsblatt, Germany’s leading business publication, reported Friday that VW’s supervisory board had approved this piece of the partnership.

The board meeting was the deciding factor in whether Ford and VW would make an announcement next week, one source told The Detroit News.

Ford and VW have been in broad-ranging discussions for several months regarding partnerships in Europe and the U.S. The automakers have discussed partnering on autonomous vehicles, electric vehicles, commercial vehicles and pickup trucks.

The automakers signed a memorandum of understanding last summer to look into partnering on commercial vehicles, Ford’s best-seller in Europe. Pickups are a weak spot for VW, which vies annually to be the global leader in vehicle sales.

The companies have also discussed partnering on the more futuristic and expensive side of the business. The News reported in November that as part of the partnership talks, Volkswagen was considering a $1 billion-plus investment in Argo AI, the robotics and technology company majority-owned by Ford.

VW CEO Herbert Diess said after a White House meeting in December that he might used Ford plant capacity in the U.S. to build cars. Ford executive chairman Bill Ford said then that the discussions were progressing well.

Partnership negotiations are on-going.

ithibodeau@detroitnews.com

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