Ford may partner with Volkswagen for passenger car development

The automakers are already looking at joint commercial vehicle projects

Ford and Volkswagen may join forces to develop passenger cars together as part of wide-ranging partnership talks between the two automakers.

In an interview with Bloomberg Bob Shanks, Ford’s chief financial officer, noted the companies are “having a very broad set of discussions about how we can help each other around the world.

In June this year, Ford and Volkswagen announced it had signed a memorandum of understanding, and would investigate joint development of commercial vehicle platforms and models.

Now, though, Shanks says “collaboration isn’t being limited in any way whatsoever, whether it’s different types of technology, product segments or geography”.

Above: Could the Mondeo move to the Volkswagen MQB architecture?

While the Detroit automaker surprised many last week when it announced a US$1.7 billion ($2.4 billion) third quarter profit before tax last week, it was primarily driven by high-margin pickup trucks and SUVs in the North American market, where the company booked a profit of almost US$2 billion ($2.8 billion).

This was offset by losses of US$152 million ($214 million) in South America, US$245 million ($345 million) in Europe, and US$208 million ($293 million) in Asia Pacific, where Ford’s poor showing China really hurt.

Although Ford hasn’t said anything officially yet, the most obvious places for the two to collaborate would be for low-cost vehicles aimed at the South American market, as well as utes and vans sold in Europe.

It’s possible Ford could work with Volkswagen in producing replacements for the Mondeo family car range, and Galaxy and S-Max people movers, should it decide it still wants to compete in those shrinking market segments.

Above: New Ford Territory is a restyled JMC Yusheng SM330.

Ford shocked the industry earlier this year when it announced it would discontinue all passenger vehicle lines, except the Mustang, for the North American market, shifting its entire range to pickup trucks, SUVs and crossovers.

It has since started partnership talks with Indian automaker Mahindra. Ford has also begun restructuring its Chinese operations with a view to making more use of its joint venture partners.