Ford and VW previously announced that they were working in collaboration, but it has now been revealed how deep that collaboration will go.
Ford is not only going to be using VW's MEB electric vehicle platform for its own battery-powered car, but it's also joining Argo AI, the autonomous technology company looking to put level 4 self-driving cars on the road.
Starting with getting an EV on the road, using VW's existing platform allows Ford to avoid the R&D cycle, using the platform that VW has already developed which will be rolling-out with the ID.3 in 2020.
For Ford, we can expect to see a new electric car on VW's platform on European roads by 2023. Of course Ford previously had a Focus Electric on the road - and has announced plans for the Electric Transit in 2022, but it's likely that working with VW will result in something completely new and aggressive on price.
Talk of the electric SUV that draws on the Mustang for style has been rolling along for some time - but there's still no indication of when or what we might get. At least working with VW we have a better idea of Ford's mass market plans.
The second part of the collaboration between the two companies is sharing self-driving car technology. This sort of collaboration isn't unusual - BMW and Daimler have a similar agreement - but in this case it sees Ford investing in Argo AI. It will see both Ford and VW using Argo AI in their cars, and the investment should lead to a ramp-up in development of the technology.
Level 4 autonomy is fully self-driving, where the human no longer needs to be attentive to the road. While the technology to enable that has been in development for some time, the legislation that would allow such cars on the road is a long way off - and rightly so. It needs to be completely foolproof and safe before it could be let loose in the wild.
Current cars systems are at level 2 - like Tesla Autopilot. While some cars say they can progress to level 3, again, we're some way off that actually being allowed to happen.