The race to put the first autonomous vehicles on the road has yielded a variety of unexpected partnerships and pair-ups. And, as of this week, it seems VW and Ford are the latest dynamic duo to join the lineup of teams taking on the self-driving question. According to Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess, the two massive carmakers are very close to reaching a deal to develop autonomous automobiles jointly.
According to a Reuters report, the two automakers have bee involved in talks for the last several months. This week’s update from Diess, however, is the most definitive confirmation of progress that has been offered thus far.
The talks are “going well and are nearly complete,” VW CEO Herbert Diess told some 500 of the company’s top managers from around the world gathered at its headquarters in Wolfsburg.
The move comes as the field for building the first car that can safely drive itself (and its passengers) is getting increasingly crowded. Fiat Chrysler and Aurora announced a team up play on commercial autonomous vehicles earlier this week, and Tesla’s aggressive push in this arena recently coughed up a new self-driving microchip for autonomous vehicles. The VW/Ford pairing comes as both firms are facing a still competition for investment and top engineering talent — and not just from other car makers.
It also comes, according to reports, as Volkswagen is seeing its global sales picture getting complicated — which makes partnership with Ford particularly strategically important.
“Today we are de facto a very Chinese-oriented company. For this we need a counterweight in the U.S.,” Diess said, according to prepared remarks seen by the news outlet.