(CNBC) — Barring a last-minute hitch, two of the world’s largest automakers plan to announce a far-reaching alliance shortly after the new year, one that will cover a wide swath of territory and a broad range of technologies, new and old.

The deal will serve as something of a jointly played jigsaw puzzle, allowing Ford Motor and Volkswagen to leverage their strengths and offset weaknesses at a time when the global automotive industry is facing not only traditional competitive challenges but the risks posed by massive technological transformation. Among the key elements expected to be part of the deal will be a cooperative effort to bring to market electrified and autonomous vehicles, something each of the companies already has spent billions of dollars developing.

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