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Ford could make EVs in Germany after 2023

2016 Ford Focus Electric

German chairman tells Handelsblatt that EV sales would need to exceed 30,000, but that “purely hypothetically” 2023 could be a good moment to re-tool its Cologne plant

US motor giant Ford could begin making electric vehicles in its Fiesta plant in Germany after 2023, a senior Ford official has told a German business daily.

“Purely hypothetically [2023] could be a good time for it,” Gunnar Herrmann, chairman of Ford in Germany, told Handelsblatt in a recently published interview. The date would coincide with the end of the life cycle for the current generation of the Fiesta model.

Herrmann said that state subsidies from the German government would be welcome to help the shift to EVs and that it would take some 15 months to retool the Fiesta plant in Cologne.

However, Herrmann he also said that sales of electric cars would need to exceed 30,000 or 40,000 vehicles a year to make the transition worthwhile, and that Ford would not be immediately following in the footsteps of German brands like VW and Daimler.

“We will closely monitor market trends and customer demand until then. For 30,000 or 40,000 cars sold per year, we would not convert the Cologne plant to an electrical production. This will only be possible if the sales figures go up higher. Unfortunately, electric cars are not very profitable today,” he told the German daily.

Indeed, despite optimism from some firms, Ford’s comments closely echo those of BMW chief executive Harald Krueger, who remarked last month that mass production of EVs would not be profitable for the company until 2020. “If you want to win the race, you must be the most cost competitive in the segment, otherwise you cannot scale up the volume,” he told analysts.

Nevertheless, Ford claims to have doubled its global electrification budget to US$11 billion, and still intends to produce 40 “electrified” vehicles by 2022. The first fully electric model, other than the existing Focus Electric, is slated to hit Europe some time in 2020.


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