Ford and Google are in discussions that may lead to plans for Ford to build autonomous cars for Google.
According to a report published yesterday by Automotive News, sources with knowledge of the project said the two companies have been in negotiations “for a long time,” and an announcement regarding the venture could come as soon as next month’s CES 2016.
Unknown is whether any vehicle that might be developed would be an all-new vehicle, or based off an existing Ford product, and the respective companies are otherwise being tight lipped.
Google officials declined to directly address the report, though they did acknowledge that the tech giant has been in talks with various automakers.
Ford officials also did not specifically comment on the rumored collaboration.
“We work with a lot of tech companies all over the world,” Ford spokesperson Alan Hall said. “We keep these discussions private for obvious competitive reasons and we do not comment on speculation.”
Ford CEO Mark Fields, expected to make an appearance at CES 2016 next month in Las Vegas, made waves earlier this month when he announced that Ford would invest $4.5 billion into the development of 13 new electrified vehicles by 2020.
During the same press event, Ford also released details of its “Smart Mobility Plan,” showcasing the automaker’s increased focus on autonomous vehicles, as well as connectivity, mobility, and data science.
“As both an auto and a mobility company, we at Ford are going further than just designing the product to move people from point A to point B,” Raj Nair, executive vice president, Product Development stated. “We are considering the way customers interact with our vehicles as a unified experience, looking for ways to excite and delight customers and make their lives better.”
Ford signaled the possibility of a potential collaboration in Jan. of this year when it announced it would open a Research and Innovation Center in the heart of Silicon Valley in Palo Alto, CA. In forming a research alliance with Stanford, a fleet of Fusion Hybrid vehicles would be delivered to university engineers for autonomous driving testing.
On Dec. 15, Ford received approval to begin testing autonomous vehicles on California roads.