Wolfsburg - Volkswagen and Ford are exploring the prospect of a strategic alliance that would involve collaborating on several joint projects.
Among these, says VW, would be the “joint development of a range of commercial vehicles to better serve the evolving needs on customers globally”.
Details are thin on the ground at this stage, but such an alliance could certainly have implications in the bakkie world.
Assuming that work on the next-generation Amarok is not already at too advanced a stage, it could certainly make sense, from a cost perspective, to twin it with the next-generation Ford Ranger.
Much like the current Mazda BT-50, the Amarok would likely share its basic structure with the Ranger, but sporting different styling and a redesigned cabin. Incidentally, the BT-50’s replacement will be based on Isuzu’s next KB, in a deal struck after the Ford-Mazda divorce.
Could a VW-Ford deal also result in the German carmaker getting its own version of the larger F150 pick-up? This is possibly more of a long shot, given that VW is expected to tackle the full-sized pick-up market in the US with a unibody vehicle inspired by the Tanoak concept. Either way it goes, VW desperately wants in on this lucrative segment in the US.
While VW could turn to Ford for help with its bakkies, the German carmaker could help Ford to strengthen its position in a sector that it already leads - namely vans. Hence don’t be surprised to see a new range of Transits somewhere down the line based on VW’s Caddy, T5 and Crafter models.
Although the “strategic alliance” will almost certainly involve platform and technology sharing, there will not be any equity sharing between the companies.
“This potential alliance with the Volkswagen Group is another example of how we can become more fit as a business, while creating a winning global product portfolio and extending our capabilities,” said Ford’s president of global markets, Jim Farley.
“We look forward to exploring with the Volkswagen team in the days ahead how we might work together to better serve the evolving needs of commercial vehicle customers – and much more.”
VW’s group strategy head Dr. Thomas Sedran added: “Markets and customer demand are changing at an incredible speed. Both companies have strong and complementary positions in different commercial vehicle segments already.”