Ford Motor Company may join with tech-giant Google under contract to provide the latter party’s next generation of autonomous cars. According to Automotive News, a source with intimate knowledge of the deal claims that both Ford and Google have been working on such an agreement “for a long time.”
Google’s first generation of 100 autonomous cars was built by Detroit-area company Roush Industries, and tapping Ford Motor to build the tech company’s vehicles could save several years and billions of dollars with regard to development versus manufacturing a vehicle in-house. It’s unclear, however, whether Ford would provide Google with a model already in-production, or furnish the Silicon Valley enterprise with a special, purpose-built vehicle.
Ford declined to confirm the the rumors to AN, but an official announcement could come as soon as January 4th, 2016, just ahead of the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. If any such agreement were struck, it would create a joint-venture separate from Ford Motor Company for all legal purposes, and would be non-exclusive, meaning that Google could tap other automakers for its autonomous cars in the future.
The deal would likely prove beneficial to Ford, as well, as the tech company’s know-how could help the automaker bring its own autonomous cars to market. Ford CEO Mark Fields told AN in an interview: “It’s not only about what are the things that are going to be core to us but who are we going to partner with, in some cases… I don’t think we can just be so arrogant to think that we’re going to do everything on our own and we’re going to do something better than maybe a company that does that 24/7. For us, partnerships are really important.”