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Towards a better understanding of the ‘global alliance’ between Ford and VW

21st January 2019 | Comments Off on Towards a better understanding of the ‘global alliance’ between Ford and VW

Ford and Volkswagen have announced a new partnership. This ‘global alliance’ is a strategic move that comes at a time when the industry is undergoing significant change. In addition to vans and pick-ups, the alliance is an opportunity to collaborate on three key areas: electric vehicles, self-driving technology and new transport services. The deal is said to benefit both parties through the sharing of key technologies and services. VW dominates in Europe and China with a strong electric vehicle portfolio. Ford, on the other hand, maintains a solid presence in North America and through the recent acquisition of Argo AI – a self-driving car program – is committed to begin manufacturing autonomous vehicles (that can operate without a steering wheel or pedals) by 2021.

Patents provide a new way of analysing deals

One way to understand the extent of innovation inside Ford and VW is to take a closer look at their patent portfolios. By using Cipher Automotive to analyse an OEM’s patents, you immediately have an additional lens on the technologies that they are researching, developing and protecting. In the case of VW and Ford, it provides insight into who is bringing what to this exciting partnership.

VW powering ahead in BEVs

VW has demonstrated a superior presence in battery electric vehicle (BEV) and electrical power system (EPS) technologies, as illustrated in Chart 1. This is the support that the alliance may benefit Ford in this area.

Chart 1: VW and Ford portfolios in BEV and EPS technologies

Ford not as strong in autonomous as VW

Chart 2: VW and Ford portfolios in autonomous system technologies

With respect to technologies relating to autonomous vehicles, Ford’s patent portfolio is considerably smaller than VW’s.

Source: Cipher Automotive

It is also interesting to compare the combined VW/Ford portfolio with the BMW/Daimler patent assets in the same autonomous areas, as a result of their merger activity last March. The forces are now aligned, not only against each other, but also against the many others who intend to share in this rich seam of value in the years ahead.

Chart 3: VW and Ford compared with BMW and Daimler in autonomous system technologies.  

Transport and mobility services suggest synergy

Transport services, defined as technologies in mobility, connectivity and remote services, are similarly matched for both OEMs. This is an area experiencing increasing demand, and the combination such a combination of innovation equals.

Chart 4: VW and Ford portfolios in transport services (including mobility, connectivity and remote services)

Source: Cipher Automotive

The alliance is an opportunity for both Ford and VW to strengthen their positions as competition in the automotive industry intensifies. However, based on an analysis of the patent portfolios of both organisations, there are numerous areas where one OEM remains stronger than the other.

About Cipher Automotive

Cipher Automotive is a unique solution for mapping patents to technologies, to provide the answer to who’s doing what across over 200 automotive technologies owned by over one million owners. The charts in this report were generated using a predefined set of super classifiers from the Cipher Automotive taxonomy. This approach delivers transparency and efficiency to the previously slow and expensive task of sorting patents using keywords and patent office codes which are not adequate for trend analysis of this sort. For more information visit –