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VW, Ford in talks about autonomous electric vehicles, report -Cars Automobiles

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FRANKFURT – Volkswagen AG and Ford Motor Co. are conducting "exploratory talks" to jointly develop self-driving and electric vehicles in a far-reaching strategic alliance that will save companies billions of dollars, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The German and US automakers are expected to submit an update on the progress of the talks before the end of the year, said the person who did not want to be identified.

The spokespersons of both automakers would repeat only what they said earlier about the cooperation of the companies in the development of commercial vehicles.

"In our (Memorandum of Understanding) with VW talks are discussed about possible cooperation in a number of areas and it is premature to provide additional details at this time," said Ford spokesman Alan Hall.

Automakers around the world are jointly discussing the costs of developing autonomous and electric vehicles. Partnerships in the field of autonomous driving vary by region.

Honda Motor Co. announced this month that it would invest $ 2.75 billion and acquire a stake in General Motors Co.'s Cruise Automation self-driving vehicle unit to jointly build autonomous vehicles for use in global service fleets develop.

VW and Ford are under pressure to introduce more electric vehicles in Europe, where the emissions regulations are exacerbated by diesel emissions in the wake of the Volkswagen scandal.

Volkswagen CFO Frank Witter said on Tuesday that the car manufacturer was open to deeper alliances with external companies, especially in the field of autonomous driving.

Witter said the car manufacturer's sharing of the electric car platform MEB with Ford was theoretically possible, even though VW is currently focused on rolling out the electric vehicle technologies under its own brands.

VW representatives have repeatedly emphasized that the only way to turn electric cars into a mass-market product is to achieve economies of scale, making them as cheap or cheaper than diesel vehicles.

The VW Group is investing 342 billion euros in electromobility and autonomous driving until 2022 and plans to make 2 to 3 million full-battery electric vehicles by 2025. VW's MEB project already includes 20 billion euros for battery cell procurement.

Ford executives and other sources previously told Reuters that the two automakers were talking about expanding product and technology alliances.

VW and Ford are already part of a joint venture called IONITY with BMW AG and Daimler AG to build an ultra-fast EV charging network across Europe.

In July, Ford created a $ 4 billion separate unit to accommodate its self-driving vehicle operation, looking for outside investors who were traveling with Cruise similar to GM.

Ford said $ 4 billion would be invested in its newly formed Ford Autonomous Vehicles LLC by 2023, including the $ 1 billion previously earmarked for Argo AI, the self-propelled Pittsburgh Ford acquired in 2017.

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