QOTD: Manufacturer Cooperation – Cash Saver, or Corrosive Cancer?

Cooperation and borrowing between auto manufacturers is nothing new, and it isn’t always a bad thing. For example, look what happened in the 1980s when Lincoln borrowed a BMW inline-six turbodiesel for its Continental Mark VII luxury coupe. Oh, maybe that’s not the best example. But two events this week have led to a couple of new examples for us to ponder.

How do you think these cooperative automotive projects will fare?

Times are tough and profits are thin. Manufacturing cars is difficult and expensive with regard to safety, environmental, and government considerations. Factories are closing, models are being discontinued. As a result of these and other factors, OEMs are partnering up with one another.

Case 1: Toyota unveiled its new 2020 Supra at NAIAS, after what seemed like four years of teaser photos and intense speculation. Absent from the press release information — a mention of how the Supra was developed in conjunction with BMW, and will be built at a BMW factory alongside the Z4 pictured above (available in 2019). Supra comes standard with a BMW inline-six engine, and the hard points of the car are much more Z4 in their nature than Supra. It’s what everyone wanted!

Case 2: Ford and Volkswagen announced their new plan for cooperation on Tuesday. After much negotiation, the two companies have agreed to build a pickup truck together. Volkswagen is interested in Ford’s truck skills, and Ford is interested in VW’s electrification and autonomous knowledge. If all goes well, the companies will perhaps build a next-generation Ranger-Amarok. Perhaps they’ll call it Ranrok.

In both of these cases, the idea behind the jointly developed vehicles is to make the most of the core competencies of their respectively joined partners while simultaneously saving both companies money. Therein lies today’s question: Will those claims end up being true?

Is the Supra as good as it could’ve been if Toyota was on its own, free to use its own clean-sheet design, and its own engine? Will a Ranger with a VW-sourced interior impress, while creating better economies of scale? Or are these sorts of co-op projects just destined to create milquetoast results; compromises which truly please very few people? Off to you.

[Images: Toyota, BMW, Ford]

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