Politics, it's been said, creates strange bedfellows. So does the auto industry these days.
Ford this week announced plans to expand its work with Mahindra Group, one of India's largest car companies, to find ways to collaborate on advanced powertrains, connected car technologies and even new vehicles.
The new agreement comes as the auto industry rumor mill buzzes with reports of a possible new partnership between Ford and Volkswagen. Meanwhile, the No. 2 automaker's cross-town rival, General Motors, this past month announced a tie-up of its own to an erstwhile rival, Honda which is planning to invest $2.75 billion over the next decade on the joint development of autonomous vehicles.
The sheer cost and technological burden of developing self-driving cars, electric vehicles and other advancements has companies that have historically been fierce competitors becoming, at the very least, frenemies. They're forming new alliances, joint ventures and agreements to help develop and build new technologies that may take years to get to market and even longer before turning a profit. While some Odd Couple alliances are more successful than others, all share a common cause.
"When you think about how much it costs to develop these future technologies — it's immense," Autotrader executive analyst Michelle Krebs told CNBC earlier this month. "And we don't know when they'll be ubiquitous, when they'll get any return on that investment. So they're sharing the cost. They're sharing the risk."
Volkswagen announced almost a year ago that it plans to spend $40 billion to develop autonomous and electrified vehicles through 2022. It is expected to invest billions more by 2025 when it hopes to have 50 all-electric vehicles filling out the product lineup of brands ranging from mainstream Seat, Skoda and VW to exclusive marques Audi, Bentley and Lamborghini. And the German automaker isn't alone.