Ford said it would make a new electric car in Europe using Volkswagen’s mechanical framework for battery-powered vehicles and spend $1 billion to revamp a factory in Germany to make the zero-emission cars.
Ford of Europe President Stewart Rowley said during an online news conference Wednesday that the factory in Cologne will build an electric passenger vehicle to reach the market in mid-2023, and it may build a second one there in the future.
He said it was part of Ford's push to offer fully electric or plug-in, gas-electric versions of all passenger vehicles in Europe by 2024, with all European vehicles going full electric by 2030. The company also predicted that two-thirds of its European commercial vehicle sales will be electric or plug-in hybrids by 2030.
"We are going all in on electric vehicles," Rowley said.
The agreement with Volkswagen enabling the use of the German company's mechanical framework for electric cars – known by its German acronym MEB, or modular electric toolkit – lets Ford take advantage of Volkswagen's massive investment in electric cars as the industry shifts toward zero-local emissions vehicles.
The Volkswagen framework uses standard mechanical underpinnings such as the battery, wheels and axles that can be adjusted to manufacture different vehicle models.
Carmakers in Europe must sell more electrics to meet new, lower limits on emissions of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas blamed for global warming. If manufacturers don't hold fleet average emissions below the limit, they face heavy fines. Rowley said Ford was in a position to avoid the fines going forward.
Ford lost $1.28 billion last year as it dealt with a huge restructuring, a costly recall and a decline in the value of its pension fund.
Meanwhile, the company said commercial vehicles are the key to growth and profitability in Europe, with new products and services through its alliance with Volkswagen and Ford's Otosan joint venture in Turkey.
The joint venture recently announced a new-generation commercial vehicle and battery assembly factory investment in Turkey's industrial Kocaeli province.
To be made through a fixed investment worth around TL 20.5 billion ($2.92), the investment will span six years.
Once completed, Ford is expected to produce 210,000 new-generation commercial vehicles and 130,000 batteries per year.
The Kocaeli facility, located in the Gölcük district, is the largest commercial vehicle production hub for Ford in Europe.
Previously, the firm produced Turkey’s first plug-in hybrid commercial vehicle – Transit Custom Plug-In Hybrid – and was recently assigned responsibility to manufacture E-Transit, Ford’s first all-electric commercial van.
The latest investment, to be made through 2025, is among the most significant Ford has made in more than a generation and "underlines our commitment to Europe and a modern future," Rowley said in the statement.
Ford said the investment in the Cologne plant, which employs just over 4,000 workers, comes after its European operations returned to a profit in the fourth quarter of 2020.
The investment is part of Ford's goal of spending at least $22 billion on electric vehicles from 2016-2025.
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