Ford is to use IBM and French company Dassault Systemes to supply and install product lifecycle management (PLM) and design software.
The software should allow the world's second-largest ca manufacturer to shorten development cycles, increase flexibility and bring new products to market faster.
IBM and Dassault will install several PLM applications, including their joint Catia and Enovia applications, at Ford's design and manufacturing locations worldwide. Financial details of the deal were not disclosed.
The announcement could be a blow to Electronic Data Systems (EDS), a long-time supplier of PLM software to Ford. EDS has more than 200 employees supporting Ford at a special technology centre in Michigan.
However, EDS is also a major supplier to Ford rival General Motors, with business from GM and its affiliates contributing $585m (£355m) in the third quarter of last year.
"It could be the start of Ford moving away" from EDS, even though automakers typically "aren't too worried about using the same CAD (Computer Aided Design) applications as their rivals," said Simon Bragg, European research office of research company Arc Advisory Group.
"Dassault and IBM have the more complete PLM offering. It is not so much about CAD and 3D models; it is about integrating those models with fine analysis to be able to design the production line. The key is one model that can be passed to multiple departments in parallel and tells them whether the design works," Bragg said.