Ford’s joint commercial vehicle partnership with Volkswagen, announced last year, has officially been signed with South Africa set to be the biggest beneficiary.
As indicated earlier this month, the reported $7-billion agreement, which also involves artificial intelligence firm Argo AI, will see the introduction of a new mid-size pick-up engineered and built by the Blue Oval for Volkswagen, a city delivery van based on the new Caddy by 2021, a one-ton van developed by the Blue Oval for Volkswagen and an all-electric vehicle made by Ford of Europe using Wolfsburg’s MEB platform by 2023.
“Commercial vehicles are fundamental to Ford today and an area where we will accelerate and grow, and working with Volkswagen on these platforms will provide both of us significant financial advantages in things like engineering, and plants and tooling,” Ford Motor Company Chief Operating Officer, Jim Farley, said in a statement.
In the same testimonial, Volkswagen Chairman and CEO, Herbet Diess, remarked that the “collaboration will efficiently drive down development costs, allowing broader global distribution of electric and commercial vehicles, and enhance the positions of both companies”, while Ford CEO Jim Hackett stated that, “this alliance comes at a time of tremendous enthusiasm about the intersection of increasingly intelligent, connected vehicles in an ever-smarter world”.
While it has been known for some time that the previously unnamed Volkswagen pick-up makes reference to the second generation Amarok set to be unveiled in 2022, Volkswagen, in confirming the model by name in the mentioned statement, also revealed that production will be carried out by the Blue Oval at its Silverton Plant outside Pretoria.
The announcement comes some two months after Wolfsburg confirmed that the General Pacheco plant in Argentina, where the South African market Amarok is sourced from, would be retooled for production of the Tarek SUV at a cost of $560-million, while the Ranger will continue to be built in the same area, albeit with reduced capacity.
“What is important for both partners is the utilisation of the same platform. At the same time we will both be able to fully deploy our strengths. Through custom designs and interfaces we will clearly differentiate the two models,” Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles Chairman, Thomas Sedran, said.
“For us as Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles, our sights with the Amarok successor are on our main markets, above all in the EMEA [Europe, the Middle East and Africa] economic area. Ultimately, it is our customers who will benefit, as without the cooperation we would not have developed a new Amarok”.
With the Ranger set to debut next year, it would appear that the Amarok will use the same range of engines, but this remains to be seen. Following the release of a sketch drawing in March, chances are that more details of both models could emerge in the coming months as pre-production testing commences.
The inclusion of the Amarok will bring the number of pick-ups assembled on local shores to six after Toyota (Hilux in Durban), Isuzu (D-Max in Port Elizabeth), Nissan (next Navara in Pretoria from 2021), Mahindra (Pik-up in Durban) and its Ranger sibling.