VW and Ford close to deal on self-driving and electric cars: VW

HAMBURG (Reuters) - Volkswagen and Ford are close to reaching a deal on a partnership for developing self-driving and electric cars, the German carmaker’s chief executive said on Thursday.

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Volkswagen and the No. 2 U.S. automaker signed a deal in March to develop a pickup truck, and have been in talks about extending the alliance to include autonomous driving and mobility services, as well as Ford’s use of VW’s MEB electric-vehicle platform.

The talks are “going well and are nearly complete,” VW Chief Executive Herbert Diess told some 500 of the company’s top managers from around the world gathered at its headquarters in the German town of Wolfsburg.

Ford said talks were continuing and that it would share updates when details became firm.

“Discussions have been productive across a number of areas,” a spokeswoman said in an emailed statement.

Carmakers are increasingly looking to partnerships and alliances to help share the cost of moving to new cleaner technologies, potentially saving billions of dollars.

Volkswagen, navigating global trade conflicts, views its relationship with Ford as strategically important to help balance its regional interests.

“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 Reuters.

Earlier this week, Volkswagen said it had ended its partnership with self-driving car software firm Aurora.

The dissolution of the partnership came after Aurora said it would build autonomous platforms for commercial vehicles with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.

Ford’s majority-owned subsidiary Argo AI is building an automated “driver” that could compete with Aurora’s technology.

Reporting by Jan C. Schwartz in Hamburg and Ben Klayman in Detroit; Writing by Tom Sims; Editing by Michelle Martin and Bernadette Baum