Ford, VW planning auto partnership announcement: source

A Ford Fiesta ST-Line car is seen during the 87th International Motor Show at Palexpo in Geneva, Switzerland in this file photo. — Reuters

NEW YORK — Ford and Volkswagen are preparing to announce a strategic partnership, including in areas such as self-driving and electric autos, a person with knowledge of the matter told AFP on Wednesday.

The announcement could come Tuesday during this year's Detroit auto show, the person said.

The organizers of the auto showcase have set aside a time slot on the main stage that day between 8:30 and 9:30 am local time (1330 to 1430 GMT) for an industry announcement but have given no further details.

The two automakers have been in talks for a partnership since the summer but have said little about the form it might take.

Volkswagen has made no secret of its interest in Ford's utility vehicles but the person speaking to AFP on Wednesday said the partnership also would involve self-driving and electric autos.

"Our memorandum of understanding with VW covers conversations about potential collaborations across a number of areas," Ford spokeswoman Jennifer Flake said.

"It is premature to share additional details at this time. We look forward to sharing an update soon."

Such a major partnership would come as large automakers are facing higher costs for steel and aluminum as a result of US trade tariffs. They are also under mounting pressure to adapt to competition from Silicon Valley.

Development costs also are rising as the automakers race to bring autonomous vehicles to market ahead of Uber, Waymo and Tesla, among others.

Ford recently announced a vast restructuring, phasing out production of almost all sedans and compacts in North America and cutting its global workforce, which analysts say could idle factories.

Volkswagen meanwhile is working to move past the damaging "Dieselgate" emissions-cheating scandal, which eroded profits and tarnished the company's reputation.

Ford to cut jobs in

European revamp

US carmaker Ford said on Thursday that it plans a major restructuring of its European operations, including job cuts, to boost profitability.

The new strategy is aimed at cutting structural costs and redesigning the product lineup for commercial vehicles, passenger vehicles and imports, it said.

"We are taking decisive action to transform the Ford business in Europe," Steven Armstrong, group vice president and president for Europe, Middle East and Africa said in a statement.

Ford did not specify the number of projected job cuts, but said it hoped to achieve them through voluntary redundancies.

"Structural cost improvements will be supported by reduction of surplus labor across all functions — salaried and hourly," it said.

Among concrete steps in key markets Ford said it would end production of small automatic transmissions in Bordeaux, France.

In Germany, it plans to end production of the C-Max and Grand C-Max in Saarlouis in response to a shrinking market in Europe for compact multi-purpose vehicles.

In Russia, Ford said it would launch a strategic review of its joint venture Ford Sollers, with several restructuring options on the table.

Ford also plans to consolidate its UK headquarters and Ford Credit Europe's headquarters at the Ford Dunton Technical Center in South East Essex.

Ford employs around 53,000 people at its wholly-owned facilities in Europe — over a quarter of its worldwide total. The company has been making cars in Europe since 1911. — AFP