Ford Continues EV Expansion in Cologne

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Last year, Ford announced big EV plans in the United States, with Blue Oval City being the biggest and most ambitious project. However, we have to remember that Ford doesn’t only operate in North America, and it has proven again that it’s in for the big EV game globally.

Today, Ford inaugurated the Cologne Electric Vehicle Center, a cutting-edge production facility in Germany dedicated to manufacturing Ford’s new generation of electric passenger vehicles for a vast European clientele.

The iconic Niehl, Cologne plant, originally established in 1930, has undergone a transformation as part of a $2 billion investment. This move signifies a significant endorsement of German craftsmanship and the future of automotive production in Europe.

Built for efficiency, the 125-hectare site boasts a new production line, battery assembly, and advanced tooling and automation. These features enable an annual production capacity of over 250,000 EVs. Following the successful launches of the Mustang Mach-E, E-Transit, and F-150 Lightning, Ford recently introduced its fourth global EV, the electric Explorer. This vehicle will be the first electric model manufactured in Cologne, succeeded by a second electric vehicle, a sports crossover.

The Cologne EV Center is set to become Ford’s first carbon-neutral assembly plant worldwide. This development aligns with the company’s commitment to achieve carbon neutrality across its entire European network of facilities, logistics, and direct suppliers by 2035.

“Opening the Cologne EV Center is the start of a new generation of clean manufacturing and electric vehicles in Europe,” said Bill Ford, Executive Chair. “This facility will now be one of the most efficient and environmentally responsible plants in the entire industry. I am thrilled to continue working toward a zero emissions future for our children and grandchildren.”

Ford & Cologne Have A Long History

The inauguration of the Cologne EV Center marks a new milestone in the lengthy history of the Ford Cologne plant, a central figure in the European automotive industry since 1930. Notable vehicles manufactured at this location include the Ford Model A, Taunus, Capri, Granada, and Fiesta.

With a legacy spanning over nine decades, the Cologne-based Ford plant has produced more than 18 million automobiles. Recognized as one of Ford’s most efficient plants globally, it has facilitated mobility for countless Europeans across generations.

“The Cologne EV Center signals the start of a new era for Ford in Europe,” said Martin Sander, general manager of Ford Model e Europe. “We are once again redefining auto manufacturing, implementing advanced technologies to build fully connected, software-defined vehicles that meet our customers’ demand for zero emission mobility.”

The Cologne EV Center’s foundation is built upon digital innovations that link machinery, vehicles, and personnel. The incorporation of self-learning machines, autonomous transport systems, and real-time big data management is crucial for enhancing production efficiency and continuously improving quality.

Ford also says it aims to prioritize complementing, rather than replacing, human expertise. By employing new cognitive and collaborative robots, as well as augmented reality solutions, the company supports its workforce while boosting efficiency. Additionally, data exchange with other plants facilitates the sharing of experiences in real time.

“The Electric Vehicle Center represents a fresh start and is the largest investment in the company’s history at the Ford plant in Cologne,” said Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz. “This is good news for Cologne, for the auto industry in Germany, for e-mobility, and for the new era.”

Ford Aims For Carbon Neutrality

Ford aims to achieve carbon neutrality by implementing new processes, machinery, and technologies that reduce energy consumption and emissions at the plant. The facility operates on 100% certified renewable electricity and biomethane, ensuring that all electricity and natural gas used are carbon neutral.

The heat required for the facility and its processes is also carbon neutral, as the local energy provider offsets the corresponding emissions from the assembly plant on Ford’s behalf. This heat is generated by an external power plant and waste incineration facility, and it is supplied to Ford through a dedicated steam network.

By 2026, the local energy provider intends to decrease operating emissions for this heat delivery by approximately 60% and eventually eliminate them entirely by 2035. Once fully functional, the Ford Cologne EV Center will be independently certified as carbon neutral, with regular audits and reconciliations against high-quality carbon offsets for any remaining emissions.

In addition to technological upgrades, the Ford Cologne EV Center also focuses on enhancing biodiversity and the ecological balance of the existing factory greenspace. Measures include introducing new perennial forb vegetation, transforming ecologically poor grass areas into wildflower meadows, and providing insect hotels as well as bat and bird habitats.

“The carbon neutral Cologne EV Center is a leading automotive industry showcase for the switch from traditional auto manufacturing to electric vehicle production,” concluded Sander. “The facilities and processes have been designed by our engineers to maximize efficiency and minimize environmental impact, helping Ford become carbon neutral in Europe and supporting our global decarbonization plan.”

This Comes After Ford’s Big North American Announcement

In late 2021, Ford revealed the groundbreaking of BlueOval City, the company’s latest and most advanced automobile production complex. Spanning 119 years since its inception, this facility stands as the largest in Ford’s history.

Ford and SK On invested $5.6 billion to construct a state-of-the-art facility for all-electric trucks and advanced batteries in West Tennessee, intended for future Ford and Lincoln vehicles. This investment came less than a year after the two companies signed their agreement. Starting production in 2025, the nearly 6-square-mile mega campus is expected to create approximately 6,000 new jobs.

Ford also announced plans to stay actively engaged with various communities in West Tennessee by hosting livestreamed discussions and collaborating on local projects. One notable partnership is with the University of Tennessee, where Ford is working to restore stream waters flowing through the university’s Lone Oaks Farm. Additionally, Ford is committed to expanding STEM education opportunities for students from kindergarten to 12th grade across the state.

Blue Oval City will also be the production site for Ford’s second-generation electric truck, code-named Project T3. With a maximum production capacity of up to 500,000 electric trucks annually, it will become one of the world’s largest electric vehicle production sites. This development further solidifies Ford’s dedication to the rapidly growing electric vehicle market.

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Jennifer Sensiba

Jennifer Sensiba is a long time efficient vehicle enthusiast, writer, and photographer. She grew up around a transmission shop, and has been experimenting with vehicle efficiency since she was 16 and drove a Pontiac Fiero. She likes to get off the beaten path in her "Bolt EAV" and any other EVs she can get behind the wheel or handlebars of with her wife and kids. You can find her on Twitter here, Facebook here, and YouTube here.

Jennifer Sensiba has 2023 posts and counting. See all posts by Jennifer Sensiba