Ford open to alliances to build autonomous and electric vehicles

Chief Executive Jim Hackett stated that alliances with other majors in the sector, such as Volkswagen AG, were a “delicate dance.”

Ford Motor Co is gearing up to expand its projects involving autonomous and electric vehicles. Chief Executive Jim Hackett stated that the company was open to receive investments from competing automakers, paving the way for a possible alliance with Volkswagen AG.

The executive indicated that alliances with other majors in the sector, such as Volkswagen AG, were a “delicate dance.”

Volkswagen supervisory board is scheduled to meet on Thursday to review a 10-year strategic plan by Chief Executive Herbert Diess. This plan is expected to propose using alliances with rivals to cut development costs for electric and autonomous vehicles and potentially other types of vehicles.

The alliance seeks to find a better path for new technologies in the automobile industry. Hackett said that development of future light commercial vehicles was “going better than we thought it would.”

He also added that he has had great discussions about the commercial vehicle business with Herbert.

However, Hackett said expanding collaboration to other areas, such as electric vehicles or consolidation in Latin America, would have to be done carefully, and no broader deal had been agreed.

“We compete in a bunch of areas as well,” he told Reuters.

Ford shares have plummeted by 22 percent in 2018, reflecting investors’ frustration regarding the pace at which the company of presenting plans to restructure money-losing operations in Europe, Latin America and China, and a strategy for funding investments in autonomous and electrified vehicles.

Emerging market for autonomous and electric vehicles

As a result of technological advances and new pro-environmentalist policies, autonomous and electric vehicles are gaining ground in the market.

EVs are gaining more relevance for majors in the sector. Volkswagen, for instance, recently announced the launch of its new €20,000 electric car, set to be direct competition for Tesla’s Model 3.

This shift is necessary, not only to meet market needs but also to avoid sanctions.

France, United Kingdom, and now Spain could ban internal combustion vehicles in 2040. For their part, Scotland, Denmark, and Norway are planning to make this transition earlier, in 2030.

In this sense, increasing the electric vehicle fleet is a necessary step. All majors in the industry present their progress each year and are preparing to compete in the alternative vehicle market.

On the other hand, autonomous cars are emerging as an ideal alternative for the future. With Tesla at the lead, making a big impression with its autopilot, other companies are developing technologies to reduce human intervention in driving.

In view of this, Ford has announced plans to launch a level 4 model (of the 5 autonomy levels in the SAE scale) in 2021. In this level, cars do not require human intervention to operate in certain areas previously recognized by the system.

For more information, check Energía16

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