Volkswagen and Ford will unveil a deeper alliance that goes beyond cooperating in commercial vehicles in a move meant to save them billions of dollars. Photo: (AP Photo/Michael Sohn, file)

INTERNATIONAL - Volkswagen AG and Ford Motor Co will unveil a deeper alliance next week that goes beyond cooperating in commercial vehicles in a move meant to save the automakers billions of dollars as they develop new technologies, two people familiar with the plan said on Wednesday.

Ford and VW have been exploring closer cooperation as trade frictions force carmakers to rethink where they build vehicles for Europe, the United States and China, and as software companies prepare to launch their own self-driving cars.

“A global alliance is expected to be announced,” one person said, adding that the pact will be unveiled next Tuesday during the Detroit auto show. The companies have previously said any alliance would not involve a merger or equity stakes.

The expanding alliance highlights the growing pressure on all global automakers to manage the costs of developing electric and self-driving vehicles, as well as technology required to meet tougher emissions standards for millions of internal combustion vehicles they will sell in the years to come.

Slowdowns in the world’s largest auto markets - China and the United States - have ratcheted up the pressure to cut costs.

The scope of the alliance is still being determined, the people said, as talks about cooperation in the area of electric and autonomous cars continue. The sources asked not to be identified because the negotiations are ongoing.

“Talks are going well,” the second person said.

The framework of the alliance would include the pooling of resources in autonomous technology and VW investing in that Ford business, and Ford licensing Volkswagen’s MEB electric vehicles platform, the person added.

When the commercial vehicle alliance is announced next week, the companies will also say they are close on deals covering the autonomous and electric vehicle businesses, the person said.

VW officials have talked about gaining access to Ford’s Transit commercial van and the Ranger midsized pickup truck, as well as building their vehicles in Ford plants.

Speaking at an event in downtown Detroit to unveil the company’s revamped large Explorer SUV, Ford’s president of global markets Jim Farley said he had no news to share with reporters about the status of talks with VW, but said that they are “progressing well.”

“We see real value in working together,” Farley said. “The discussions have been very specific.”

He added that over the coming weeks Ford will share details on how it will restructure its global operations, including in South America and Europe.

VW had no immediate comment.

Reuters