September 22, 2023

Ford retools German factory for VW Platformed, Europe-only Explorer EV

ford cologne electric vehicle center

Ford opens carbon neutral German EV factory ford

  • Ford is tapping into its EV investments in the Americas and Europe as the company reopens its Cologne, Germany plant as an EV hub.

  • With an annual production capacity of 250,000 units, Ford says the first model to be produced at the plant will be the VW-backed Ford Electric Explorer available only in Europe.

  • In addition to electric vehicle production, Ford says this factory renovation included upgrades in the name of carbon neutrality, particularly around renewable electricity and steam-based heat.

Ford takes its EV transition very seriously. From groundbreaking new EV plants in Tennessee and Kentucky to closing a charging deal with Tesla, the US manufacturer is demonstrating its commitment to the future of electric vehicles in the US. But the US is nowhere near the largest EV market, especially when compared to Asia and Europe.

Of course, Ford has a plan for that too, as it announces the official opening of its electric plant in Cologne, Germany. Originally opened in 1931, the Cologne body and assembly plant has produced everything from the Ford Model A and the Capri to all eight generations of the Ford Fiesta, but its purpose within the Ford range will change. And it also gets a new name.

ford cologne electric vehicle center


Following a $2 billion investment initially announced in 2021, Ford’s Cologne Electric Vehicle Center is now open for production. With 308 acres of battery assembly and state-of-the-art tooling and automation now available, Ford says the German facility will have an annual production capacity of 250,000 EVs, starting with the Volkswagen-platformed, Europe-only electric Explorer. . European EV buyers can also expect an additional electric sports crossover soon, says Ford.

Specific factory improvements include self-learning machines, autonomous transportation systems and instant big data management systems, though Ford claims it does not want to replace human workers at the factory. Still, Ford is adding cognitive and collaborative robots, as well as augmented reality solutions, to “increase efficiency and data sharing” with the company’s other plants.

2023 Ford electric explorer

Ford’s Electric Explorer will be the first model to roll off the new production line in

The factory upgrade is in line with Ford’s commitment to produce 100% of its European passenger cars as zero-emission, fully electric or plug-in hybrids by 2026. But fulfilling production capacity and planning for new EV models isn’t the only reason Ford spent billions of dollars renovating the Cologne plant. Ford says achieving carbon neutrality at the plant was equally important.

ford cologne electric vehicle center

Chancellor of Germany Olaf Scholz (from left) and Ford Executive Chairman Bill Ford at the launch event in

“The opening of the EV Center in Cologne marks the start of a new generation of clean production and electric vehicles in Europe,” said Bill Ford, Ford’s executive chairman. “This facility is now becoming one of the most efficient and environmentally friendly plants in the entire industry. I am thrilled to continue working towards a zero-emissions future for our children and grandchildren.”

But how exactly does Ford achieve a CO2-neutral car factory? Ford says all of the electricity and natural gas needed to operate the facility will come from 100% certified renewable electricity and biomethane, in addition to the creation of new perennial vegetation, flower meadows and insect hotels, as well as habitats for bats and birds. Ford will also work with local energy suppliers to offset the plant’s corresponding heating emissions, as the internal heating is supplied through a recycled steam network.

To be clear, Ford says its plant is not yet 100% carbon neutral, though it expects to be fully carbon neutral by 2035. Emissions will be reduced by 60% by 2026, with a regular schedule of independent carbon audits for the foreseeable future.

By revamping the Cologne plant, Ford can well exceed the 18 million vehicles produced there since 1931. Competing for sales supremacy in Europe, especially electric car sales, is no mean feat with brands such as Volkswagen and Tesla dominating the market. But with competing models currently available and more planned, Ford is trying to save its traditionally popular spot in Europe.

Are there EVs only available in Europe you want to see in America? Share your thoughts below.

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