Google may be close to a contract manufacturing deal with Ford

Google may be close to a contract manufacturing deal with Ford

Google is reported to be in talks with Ford that could see Ford emerging as a key manufacturing partner in the company's plans to bring autonomous cars to market.

A report in Automotive News cited an anonymous source "with knowledge of the project" which would amount to a contract manufacturing deal. The report also suggested that the deal is yet to be finalised and could be announced at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas early next month. 

Earlier this year, Chris Urmson, director of self-driving cars at Google, confirmed that Google has started talks with car companies and assembled a team of global suppliers to speed its push to bring self-driving cars to market.

The suppliers named by Google included Bosch, which supplies power electronics and long-range radar to Google; ZF Lenksysteme, which supplies a new steering gear; LG Electronics, which supplies the batteries; plus Continental and Roush.

In June, Google began testing self-driving prototype vehicles of its own design on public roads around Mountain View.

Google is expected to make its self-driving cars unit, which will offer rides for hire, a stand-alone business under its parent company, Alphabet Inc.

There have been signs lately that Ford is attaching high priority to emerging advanced technologies that will potentially transform business models for carmakers.

Ford recently announced that it has secured from the state of California an autonomous vehicle driving permit to begin testing fully autonomous Ford Fusion Hybrid on public roads next year. With more than 100 researchers, engineers and scientists on staff at its Research and Innovation Center Palo Alto, Ford claims it now has one of the largest automotive research centres in Silicon Valley.