Ford and Google could be planning a joint venture to build autonomous cars, pairing the strengths of the two companies to get self-driving cars on the road faster.
Ford CEO Mark Fields will make the announcement in January at the 2016 International Consumer Electronics Show, according to Yahoo Autos, citing three sources.
Ford officials would not confirm the details Monday, but the automaker has been making a series of announcements about ramping up its testing of autonomous cars. And the automaker has said more news is planned when Fields attends the CES next month.
Spokesman Alan Hall said the automaker would not comment on speculation.
“We have been and will continue working with many companies and discussing a variety of subjects related to our Ford Smart Mobility plan,” Hall said. “We keep these discussions private for obvious competitive reasons, and we do not comment on speculation.”
Meanwhile, the two companies have the connections and have laid the groundwork.
Last year Google’s self-driving car group teamed up with Roush to develop and build a self-driving pod. Roush is building a test fleet of pods in Livonia, which are shipped to California where there is no snow to worry about.
In January, Chris Urmson, director of Self-Driving Cars for Google, said the Internet company’s goal is to have driverless cars available on the market within five years.
He said hundreds of people were working on the project in both Detroit and California.
In September, Google hired former Ford and Hyundai executive John Krafcik as CEO of Google’s Self-Driving Car Project and Google parent Alphabet is planning to make the project its own unit to compete in the car-sharing business.
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Former Ford CEO Alan Mulally is on Google’s board of directors.
Google’s Urmson said earlier this year he had already met with Ford and other automakers including General Motors, Toyota, Volkswagen and Daimler because Google was interested in working with conventional automakers who have expertise in engineering and building cars.
“For us to jump in and say we can do this better, that’s arrogant,” Urmson said in Detroit.
Fields recently announced Ford has received the permits needed to test Fusion autonomous vehicles in California, where it has established a research center in Silicon Valley, near Google.
And Ford will be the first automaker to test its autonomous Fusion at Mcity, a simulated city created on the campus of the University of Michigan that provides a safe area to put a car through repeated paces.
The facility, part of the university’s Mobility Transformation Center, opened in July for use by more than a dozen automakers, suppliers, telecommunications and other companies in the pursuit of autonomous driving technology.
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