FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) – Ford is pledging to turn the entire European passenger car range into electricity by 2030, in the latest sign of seismic technological changes that have swept the automobile industry.
Ford of Europe President Stuart Rowley said at an online press conference Wednesday that Ford will spend $ 1 billion to renovate its factory in Cologne, Germany and make it a base for the production of battery-powered cars using Volkswagen’s mechanical frame.
The new electric car will hit the market by mid-2023 and a second car could follow there in the future.
The announcement came just a month after its US rival General Motors said its entire global fleet would be largely electrified by 2035. Having broken for over a century in producing internal combustion engines, GM renewed the company logo like a power plug.
The pace of transformation at GM and Ford highlights a revolution in the auto industry forced by regulators who want to limit emissions. Automakers are simultaneously moving towards digital technology such as smartphone apps and advanced driver assistance systems, with their ultimate goal being fully autonomous vehicles.
The agreement with Volkswagen, announced Wednesday, allows Ford to benefit from VW’s massive investment in electric cars. The Volkswagen frame uses standard mechanical supports such as batteries, suspension, wheels and axles that can be adjusted to produce different vehicle models. Volkswagen already uses the frame in its own ID.3 compact and ID.4 sports utility vehicle.
Ford predicts that two-thirds of European commercial vehicle sales will be either electric or plug-in hybrid by 2030.
“We all go by electric vehicles,” Rowley said.
Automakers in Europe must sell more electricity to meet the new, lower limits on carbon dioxide emissions, the main greenhouse gas blamed for global warming. The new border, which took effect at the beginning of the year, is part of the European Union’s efforts to adapt to the 2015 Paris global warming agreement. If producers do not keep their fleet average emissions below the limit, they face severe penalties. Rowley said Ford was in a position to prevent further penalties.
The company said that commercial vehicles are the key to growth and profitability with new products and services in Europe, thanks to the partnership between Volkswagen and Ford and Otosan.
Investing by 2025 is among the most important investments Ford has made in more than a generation, and Rowley “underlines our commitment to Europe and a modern future”.
Ford said the investment in the Cologne factory, which employs more than 4,000 workers, comes after European operations return to profit in the fourth quarter of 2020.
The investment is part of Ford’s target to spend at least $ 15 billion on electric vehicles from now until 2025.
Tom Krisher reported from Detroit.
This version has been corrected to show that Ford Europe president Rowley’s first name is Stuart, not Stewart.