Ford and VW global alliance to build vans and pickups - latest details

  • All the latest info on the VW-Ford alliance
  • First joint vehicles will be pickups and vans
  • Will remain separate companies

The Ford Motor Company and Volkswagen Group have now signed agreements that 'expand' their ‘global alliance’. This partnership - codenamed Project Cyclone - will result in the joint production of new vans and pickup trucks, with the latest announcement revealing new details about the vans.

The news that VW and Ford were considering some kind of partnership in order to share costs and technology first broke in June 2018. That alliance was confirmed in January 2019, and we have been learning more about it in the time since.

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What's the latest news on the Ford-VW alliance?

Originally we were told that the first joint vehicles would be the next-generation Ford Ranger and Volkswagen Amarok pickups, set to go on sale in 2022 and planned for sale across the globe.

However, the latest official announcement is that a new joint small van will go on sale first, and that we'll actually see these initial fruits of the new Ford-VW cooperation in 2021. Which is when a Ford 'city van' based on the all-new Volkswagen Caddy will come to market.

A replacement for the current Ford Transit Connect and Ford Transit Courier, this will also be built by Volkswagen on Ford's behalf. At the same time, the two companies have officially confirmed that Ford will take the lead on a new '1,0-tonne' van - meaning a replacement for the current Ford Transit Custom and Volkswagen Transporter.

Interestingly, the latest info makes no mention of large or '2.0-tonne' vans, although we remain certain that the next Ford Transit and Volkswagen Crafter will be closely related.

Has Ford bought Volkswagen or is it the other way around?

Neither. No-one is taking over anyone else here, and there has been no move to any form of ‘cross-ownership’ either – the two firms will remain individual companies.

Rather, the agreement is exactly as described – an alliance. Meaning these two giants of the automotive world will work together on some projects in an effort to maximise profitability in an ever more competitive marketplace where customers have increasingly high expectations in terms of vehicle technology, value and performance.

So no Ford-VW or VW-Ford badged vans and pickups either?

No. All the products the alliance produces will retain individual brand identities – which we're told will mean they will look very different and true to their respective brands, even though they're based on the same platforms and technology.

Ford Ranger Raptor jumping

Volkswagen is already a master of this in the car world, of course, producing VW, Audi, Seat and Skoda models all based on the same underlying parts yet largely with clear individual identities.

Many other van brands already share platforms and tech; Ford and Volkswagen joining together in the same way will ring alarm bells for every competitor as the resulting combination will be one of the biggest players in the market.

It may be particularly nerve-racking for Mercedes-Benz, which will be left as the only mainstream brand without a significant partner. Though it does share some activity with Renault - and has confirmed there will be a second-generation Citan based on the forthcoming new 2020 Kangoo.

The Nissan Navara-based X-Class pickup has failed to be a commercial success, however, and was discontinued in May 2020.

Which VW and Ford vans and pickups will be combined in the future?

These are the combinations we will see in the future, now starting with the small van in 2021 (Caddy-Connect), followed by the pickups (Ranger-Amarok) in 2022.

  Ford Volkswagen
Pickup Ranger Amarok
Small van Transit Connect     Caddy
Medium van Transit Custom Transporter
Large van Transit Crafter

Our Australian colleagues at Wheels magazine claim to have scooped an early design prototype of the 2022 Ranger, while Volkswagen released a preview design sketch of the 2022 Amarok in March 2020.

Do we know who will actually do what under the new Ford-VW alliance?

The alliance puts Ford in charge of the pickup truck project, as well as ‘larger commercial vans for European customers’, while VW will 'develop and build a city van’.

That seems a bit of a shame given how good the current VW Crafter is, but the Transit nameplate arguably carries greater weight (no pun intended). Earlier in 2020 we also learned that the Turkish factories that build Ford's Transit and Transit Custom are particularly cost efficient.

VW Transporter Sportline

This originally appeared to make the future of the all-important medium vans, the Ford Transit Custom and Volkswagen Transporter, seem uncertain. But these arch-rivals fall under the large van category in the Cyclone alliance plan, which means Ford will be responsible for developing the platform for both the one-tonne (Transit Custom and Transporter) and two-tonne (Transit and Crafter) models.

This has been confirmed in the latest details, announced in June 2020.

The technical development of all the medium and large vans is being led from Ford's European commercial vehicle base in Dunton in Essex, and there are already Volkswagen teams embedded there to support their progress. We're assured that each vehicle will retain a clear brand identity.

Complicating matters in the medium van / one-tonne segment, we already have spy shots of the next-generation Volkswagen T7 family (the current Transporter is the origin of the T6/T6.1 family). It would seem that VW is planning to make these exclusively passenger carrying vehicles, meaning the next Transporter van won't be a T7 at all - it will be a variant of the Transit Custom instead.

Just to cause even more head-scratching, VW is also working on an all-electric van called the ID Buzz. This is also scheduled for 2022, and will be built in the firm's Hanover factory - part of the reason the current Amarok went out of production in May 2020 is to allow this factory to be reconfigured to build the Buzz.

Whether there will be a Ford version of the ID Buzz remains to be seen, but Ford is being given access to the dedicated electric vehicle platform it's based on to create new passenger cars. So anything is possible.

What else are VW and Ford planning to produce together?

Ford and Volkswagen will also be working together in the following areas:

  • > Autonomous vehicles
  • > Mobility services
  • > Electric vehicles

Each one of those things is potentially important to the van and pickup segments as well as cars.

Ford Transit Custom Sport

Exciting times lie ahead, we’re sure. But we imagine there is already a large number of fiercely brand-loyal owners and operators already wondering what this brave new future of Ford and Volkswagen cooperation is going to be like.

We’ll bring you more information as we have it.

Also read:

>> Confirmed: next Ford small van will be based on all-new VW Caddy

>> Shots fired: how Ford plans to sell even more vans in the future

>> Ford reviews on Parkers Vans and Pickups

>> Volkswagen reviews on Parkers Vans and Pickups

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