Ford Motor Co. has shared its intent to launch seven fully electric vehicles in Europe, including a battery-electric variant of the Puma subcompact crossover, its best-selling (and looking) passenger car for the market. Though the first EV in its new product offensive will be a midsize crossover helping Blue Oval deliver on a previous promise to manufacture electric vehicles in Cologne, Germany.
The unit is said to capitalize on Ford’s partnership with Volkswagen Group by leaning on the latter entity’s MEB platform that already underpins VW’s ID products and Audi’s e-tron vehicles. Driving range is estimated at 311 miles per charge, with the company anticipating a formal debut later this year.
Production is expected by early 2023, if not late in 2022, and will be followed by another EV at the same facility. According to Automotive News, that model will be a “sports crossover,” similarly dependent on German engineering with assembly commencing in 2024.
Investment in the new electric passenger vehicles to be built in Cologne is expected to be $2 billion, Ford said. The investment includes a new battery assembly facility scheduled to start operations in 2024.
The Puma electric crossover will arrive in 2024 and will be built at Ford’s factory in Craiova, Romania. Ford will also build the new Transit Courier and Tourneo Courier vans in Craiova from 2023, with all-electric versions coming in 2024. The vans are currently produced in Turkey.
With its expanded lineup, Ford expects its annual sales of EVs in Europe to exceed 600,000 units in 2026. The automaker also affirmed its intention to deliver a 6 percent EBIT margin in Europe in 2023.
“Our march toward an all-electric future is an absolute necessity for Ford to meet the mobility needs of customers across a transforming Europe,” Ford of Europe Chairman Stuart Rowley said in a statement.
For Ford’s commercial vehicles that means an expanded lineup consisting of EV variants for the Transit Custom van (due in 2023), Tourneo Custom MPV (also 2023), smaller Tourneo Courier (2024), and pint-sized Transit Courier van (2024) that makes our Transit Connect look positively massive by comparison.
This is coming on the back of Ford’s announcement that it will restructure itself into two distinct but strategically interdependent businesses in regard to its passenger vehicles. Ford Blue will be focusing on combustion-reliant passenger vehicles while Model E develops EVs. Meanwhile, Ford Pro will continue to deal with the automaker’s commercial products.
The plan is supposedly designed to expedite the company’s transition into becoming all-electric, which Ford said would happen in Europe by 2030. Commercial vans are assumed to take a little longer as the industry attempts to manage range with the additional weight they typically carry. But Ford believes it can see two-thirds of its light commercial vehicle volume to be all-electric or plug-in hybrid within the same timeframe. Considering the European Union is expected to ban internal combustion vehicles by 2035, that’s cutting it a little close.
Regardless of how realistic those goals actually are, Blue Oval feels it’s on the correct path for compliance. It recently announced an agreement with SK On and Koc Holding to jointly build a battery production facility in Turkey. The plant is targeting an annual production capacity of 30 to 45 gigawatt-hours once it becomes active in 2025. The South Korean battery supplier will also be working with Ford at three planned battery facilities in the United States.
Currently, the only pure battery electric vehicle Ford sells in Europe is the “Mustang” Mach-E that landed in 2021. While the Transit-E is due there later this year, it’s the only other model I cannot see Ford changing its mind on at this juncture.
It’s not that I’m doubting Ford’s long-term commitment to electrification, just that automakers have a tendency to say one thing and then change their minds, quietly burring planned models/programs the second it becomes convenient. Environmental social, and governance (ESG) pressures may be strong-arming businesses to comply with government mandates today. But they’re unlikely to remain in place if there’s a compressive change in leadership and the hectic political climate in most Western nations has definitely made that a possibility.
Then again, Ford may also be pursuing electrification independent of government action in an effort not to be left behind. Executives from numerous companies (including Ford) have bemoaned Tesla’s lofty share price despite it being dwarfed by legacy automakers in terms of global production capacity. The industry has also suggested EVs will be far cheaper to manufacture due to there being fewer moving parts, requiring fewer hands on their assembly lines and in trucks delivering the relevant components.
However, even with Blue Oval’s full commitment and energy prices reaching eye-watering heights, it’s hard to assume anything other than there being a mix of liquid-fueled and battery-driven models for the foreseeable future. Don’t forget that the company vowed to offer a fully autonomous ride-hailing fleet by 2021 six years ago, when all this mobility stuff really kicked off, only to let the date pass uncelebrated. We might see these seven electric models launch without a hiccup, expanded upon, delayed indefinitely, quietly canceled at the last minute, or anything in between.
[Image: Ford Motor Co.]
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