Ford ramps up as the fight for EV domination in Europe heats up
Ford Motor Co. plans to dramatically expand its electric vehicle investment in Europe even while global markets are rocked by Russia's attacks in Ukraine, a leading supplier of neon that's needed to make semiconductor chips.
The chip shortage has paralyzed auto manufacturing globally and Ford specifically.
Even so, the Dearborn automaker is powering forward with plans to challenge competitors including Tesla in the all-electric vehicle market.
Ford revealed Monday morning during a live webcast from Germany new elements of its strategy to become a key player in all-electric vehicle production: new vehicles, new production sites, new partnerships and new timelines.
"Ford Blue will build out our iconic portfolio of vehicles with internal combustion engines and deliver global scale excellence in engineering, manufacturing and supply chain. It will be the engine that powers our Ford transformation in Europe," said Stuart Rowley, Ford of Europe president.
"Ford Model e will bring the focus we need to achieve our vision of an all-electric future. It will accelerate our ability to innovate and deliver breakthrough electric and connected vehicles at scale," he said.
Ford Pro will continue to deliver products for commercial customers.
'A new Ford in Europe'
"This is not a change in strategy. This is an acceleration of our electrification plans with the full support of the global business behind us," Rowley said. "Today is about stepping into our future and creating a new Ford in Europe."
Highlights announced by Rowley included:
- Ford has signed a non-binding memorandum of understanding with SK On Co. Ltd of Seoul, Korea, and Koc Holding of Istanbul, Turkey, to build a commercial vehicle battery production site near Ankara, Turkey. It will make high nickel NMC cells for assembly into battery array modules with production planned to begin as early as 2025.
- Increasing electric and commercial vehicle production, with Ford Otosan Joint Venture with Koc Holding assuming ownership of Ford's Romanian manufacturing operations, subject to regulatory approval.
- Plans to sell more than 600,000 electric vehicles in Europe by 2026 as part of the global goal to reach annual production of 2 million electric vehicles by 2026.
- Introducing three new electric passenger cars and four new electric commercial vehicles in Europe in 2024, expanding the company's stronghold in the commercial vehicle sector.
- Manufacturing 1.2 million electric vehicles over six years in Cologne, Germany, with a total $2 billion investment.
- Achieving zero emissions for all vehicle sales and carbon neutrality across all European facilities and suppliers by 2035.
The company launched the Mustang Mach-E in Europe in 2021 and the high-performance Mustang Mach-E GT this year. The all-electric E-Transit 2-ton van is scheduled for delivery sometime between April and June.
"Nine out of 10 customers who decided to buy a Mustang Mach-E are new to Ford, many joining us on the electrification revolution from premium brands," Rowley said. "Last year, we sold more than 23,000 Mustang Mach-Es in Europe. This year, we're looking to significantly increase ... by more than 60%."
The Transit is the bestselling cargo van in the world, and the all-electric version is already generating enthusiasm, he noted.
E-Transit "orders are going up daily and we expect 7,000 vehicles in customer hands by year end," Rowley said, with vehicles being tested in real-world scenarios in the postal, municipal, and utilities, last-mile and grocery delivery sectors in Germany, Norway and the United Kingdom.
Europe is an influential electric car market where eager buyers have the choice of many products. The infrastructure in Norway, along with public policies designed to protect air quality, fully supports all-electric vehicles. Drivers there have been at more than 50% electric for more than six years. Buyers there immediately embraced the Mustang Mach-E.
Puma stays, EcoSport goes
Starting in 2023, Ford will begin building a five-seat medium-size all-electric crossover at the Ford Cologne Electrification Centre with a 311-mile range on a single charge — with a second electric vehicle coming in 2024.
Ford and VW, while still competitors, established a limited partnership in 2019 to save money and achieve electric vehicle scale.
Rowley also promised an all-electric Ford Puma crossover to be built in Craiova, Romania, starting in 2024.
"More than 130,000 Pumas were sold in Europe last year, making it the bestselling passenger vehicle across the region," he said. "We have decided that production of EcoSport will come to an end later this year."
These latest announcements come on the heels of Ford announcing a plan to restructure the 118-year-old company into three units.
"Here in Europe we're forging a fast and accelerated path to an all-electric future," Rowley said, with an all-electric portfolio of passenger vehicles by 2030 within Ford Model e and only zero-emission commercial vehicles within Ford Pro by 2035 in Europe.
Ford is counting partnerships and joint ventures to leverage its strength in a highly competitive landscape. Last year, Ford announced a multibillion-dollar investment in plants to produce parts for electric vehicles in Tennessee and Kentucky.
From Kentucky to Romania
These new announcements in Europe build on that effort, Rowley said.
"We are reimagining the Ford brand in Europe by going from two electric vehicles today to nine all-electric vehicles by 2024. More adventurous, more versatile, more connected than ever, these vehicles are built to meet the mobility needs of a modern Europe that is leading the fight against climate change," Rowley said. "It directly aligns with Ford's commitment to build a future where freedom of movement goes hand in hand with looking after our planet and each other."