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VW and Ford in talks on self-driving and electric vehicles: source

FILE PHOTO: A car with the Volkswagen VW logo badge is seen on display at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan, U.S., January 16, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo

By Edward Taylor and Ben Klayman

FRANKFURT/DETROIT (Reuters) - Volkswagen AG (VOWG_p.DE) and Ford Motor Co are in "exploratory talks" to jointly develop self-driving and electric vehicles in a far-reaching strategic alliance meant to save the companies billions of dollars, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The German and U.S. automakers are expected to provide an update on the progress of the talks before year end, said the person, who asked not to be identified.

Spokesmen for both automakers would only reiterate what they have said before about the companies collaborating on the development of commercial vehicles.

"Our (memorandum of understanding) with VW covers conversations about potential collaborations across a number of areas. It is premature to share additional details at this time," Ford spokesman Alan Hall said in an email.

Automakers globally are discussing teaming up to share the share the cost of developing autonomous and electric vehicles. Partnerships on autonomous driving technology are different from region to region.

Honda Motor Co earlier this month said it would invest $2.75 billion and take a stake in General Motors Co's Cruise Automation self-driving vehicle unit to jointly develop autonomous vehicles for deployment in ride service fleets globally.

VW and Ford are under pressure to roll out more EVs in Europe, where emissions rules are being tightened in the wake of Volkswagen's diesel emissions pollution scandal.

Volkswagen Chief Financial Officer Frank Witter on Tuesday said the carmaker was open to deeper alliances with outside companies, particularly in the area of autonomous driving.

Witter said sharing the carmaker's electric cars platform MEB with Ford was theoretically possible, although VW is currently focused on rolling out the electric vehicle technologies among its own brands.

Ford executives and other sources previously told Reuters the two automakers were in talks about expanding product and technology alliances.

(Reporting by Ben Klayman; Editing by Tom Brown and David Gregorio)