Volkswagen not sure about Ford partnership on driverless

(Bloomberg) --Volkswagen AG, set to announce an expanded alliance with Ford Motor Co. on Tuesday, hasn’t decided yet to work with the American automaker in developing self-driving cars, according to the chief executive officer of the German company.

“There’s still a lot of hype” about autonomous vehicles and "a lot of money flowing in, but I think it’s still a long way to go until we really get the first paybacks,” Herbert Diess, VW’s chairman and CEO, told reporters Monday in a roundtable at the North American International Auto Show. “There’s one alternative, which could be joining forces with Ford. It’s not yet decided. But it’s still a long way to go, many millions to be poured in and probably some setbacks to expect.”

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VW and Ford, which already decided to work together on commercial vans and pickups, have been in talks to share the investment in self-driving cars and electric vehicles. The two companies have scheduled a teleconference for Tuesday morning to reveal the results of those talks. But Diess indicated there is no deal yet on teaming up on driverless vehicles.

“America will play a major role,” he said. But VW is “committed to owning the software stack” that controls the self-driving car.

The tie-up between the two companies in commercials models is key to their alliance, Diess said. The two have complementary van and pickup product lines, and “combining those light-commercial-vehicle businesses, sharing the platforms, combining the plans should give us a competitive advantage and the right economies of scale,” Diess said. “We are also open to share electric platforms.”

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