It would give both companies something they need. Google gets valuable expertise in how to mass produce automobiles, while Ford gets Google's years of real-world autonomous drive research.
Both companies have been working on autonomous cars for years, though Google's efforts have been much more public — with the company testing dozens of autonomous vehicle on public streets in California and Texas. Ford only recently received approval to test vehicles on the streets of California
Yahoo reports that the company would be "legally separate" from Ford because of liability concerns about the fledging autonomous car market, and that the deal would be non-exclusive. Former Ford CEO Alan Mullally joined Google's board of directors last year.
"We have been and will continue working with many companies and discussing a variety of subjects related to our Ford Smart Mobility plan," said a Ford spokesperson in a statement to The Verge. "We keep these discussions private for obvious competitive reasons, and we do not comment on speculation." Likewise, a Google spokesperson also said in an email that it doesn't "comment on rumor or speculation."
Ford has a news conference scheduled at CES for Tuesday, January 5th at 7:30AM Pacific Time and The Verge will have all the details live from Vegas.