VW may pour $1.7 billion into Ford's self-driving car venture

They could be close allies in autonomy.

VW and Ford may be serious about partnering on self-driving cars. Wall Street Journal sources claim VW has tentatively agreed to invest a total of $1.7 billion in Ford's autonomy-focused Argo subsidiary and turn it into an "equally held joint venture." While the exact plans for the partnership weren't mentioned, VW could bring a number of its related efforts to the table, including its Moia mobility service brand as well as Audi's Autonomous Intelligent Driving group.

Discussions between the two companies are making "good progress," according to the insiders, although there's still a chance that talks could fall apart.

Ford and VW haven't commented on the apparent leak. However, Ford CEO Jim Hackett said in January that the initial VW team-up was a "foundational framework."

A collaboration wouldn't be surprising. Both brands have made clear that they expect personal car ownership to decline with the rise of driverless vehicles, and they've been stepping up their efforts on ride hailing and other services that would make sense in that altered landscape. An alliance would help them fend off competitors forging their own mobility service partnerships, such as BMW and Mercedes, and could ensure that Ford and VW remain major players in the car industry regardless of dramatic changes.