Volkswagen Group CEO Herbert Diess says Ford will remain its competitor despite ongoing talks with the Blue Oval brand about a strategic alliance.

Diess furthermore told the Detroit Free Press that a merger with Ford was “never” on the cards.

"We're looking into common platforms that we have. Ford is very strong in the US; we are strong in other markets," the 60-year-old told the US-based publication.

While the partnership will ostensibly lower costs for both firms and likely involve the sharing of platforms (with the next-generation Amarok possibly running on Ranger underpinnings, for example), Diess emphasised the brand would " remain competitors".

A statement on VW’s website, meanwhile, elaborated.

"The talks with Ford about an industrial co-operation announced earlier are progressing positively so far. The two companies complement each other very well in terms of both products and regions.

“The joint development and manufacture of a range of light commercial vehicles is at the core of the envisaged co-operation. Volkswagen expects significant synergy effects from the potential to lower costs or increase performance via scales.

“Ford and Volkswagen will nevertheless remain competitors, as the proposed co-operation does in no way concern commercial, marketing or pricing strategies. Additional fields of co-operation outside the light commercial vehicle segment with the potential for expanding collaboration have also been identified,” the statement said.

Ford CEO Jim Hackett, meanwhile, told Automotive News Europe the conversation with VW was “going better than we thought it would.”

“Herbert and I had a great discussion,” Hackett said of talks regarding light commercial vehicles. He added, however, that expanding the partnership with VW would be a "delicate dance" since the two firms “compete in a bunch of areas as well".