DETROIT — A potential autonomous-vehicle partnership between Ford Motor Co. and Volkswagen Group would cement the pair as leaders and validate Ford's under-the-radar efforts in the uncertain market.
VW CEO Herbert Diess this month confirmed the two sides are nearing a deal on robocar development, telling a group of company executives talks are "progressing well." In February, Diess praised Ford as "one of the pioneers on autonomous."
The partnership is likely to include an investment in Ford affiliate Argo AI, and a deal could be announced as early as July, Bloomberg reported.
Although details remained unclear, experts say a deal would enable Ford and VW to scale the technology more quickly and secure footholds in markets around the world. An investment by a second major automaker would help Argo continue its high-cost development.
As a sign of its intentions, VW split with its former autonomous-vehicle partner, Aurora Innovation, a startup founded by an all-star cast including former Google engineer Chris Urmson and former Tesla Autopilot program director Sterling Anderson.
"It's a vote of confidence in the work the team at Argo is doing," Sam Abuelsamid, a principal research analyst at Navigant Research, told Automotive News. "They see it as being further along and closer to being production-ready than what they were seeing from Aurora."