Volkswagen not sure about Ford partnership on driverless

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(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.”

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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