London / Cologne
The automaker said it is investing £ 230 million ($ 316 million) in converting its transmission plant in Halewood, northwest England, to produce electric propulsion units for future all-electric Ford cars and commercial vehicles that will be sold in Europe.
Production is scheduled to begin in 2024, Ford announced on Monday. The capacity should be around 250,000 units per year. The investment saves around 500 jobs in the plant.
An electric drive unit combines an electric motor, inverter and gearbox and replaces the motor and gearbox in a car with an internal combustion engine.
Ford didn't say whether it would build each item in the factory or source it from suppliers and assemble it on site into a unit.
Ford's German factory union leaders have criticized Ford's choice of the UK plant for investment rather than rebuilding its other European transmission plant in Cologne.
The automaker's first series-produced fully electric car will go into series production in Cologne from 2023.
"For industrial logic, the components plant should have been located in Cologne," said Martin Henning, chairman of the works council of Ford Germany, the sister paper of the Automobilwoche of Automotive News.
German union leaders said the British government had "put a lot of money on the table" to guarantee parts production in Halewood. The amount of the subsidy would have violated EU state aid rules, the union said.
The UK government has been generous to automakers looking to keep their businesses in the country as it struggles to overcome the hurdles posed by the country's exit from the European Union's free trade bloc.
A Ford spokesman did not want to comment on the words of the Ford works council in Cologne.
"We welcome the support of the British government through its Automotive Transformation Fund, but we have nothing more to add," said a Ford spokesman.
Ford has received £ 30 million from the UK government-backed fund to help rebuild the Halewood plant, the Financial Times reported.
Ford has not commented on which vehicles will use the Halewood-built EV parts, although the automaker is initially expected to use them in its electric vans.
The electric car built by Ford in Cologne is supported by the MEB-only electric platform of the Volkswagen Group, which shares with the VW ID3 hatchback and the VW ID4 crossover and is expected to use original VW drive components.
Ford will start producing an all-electric version of the Transit Custom Van at its plant in Kocaeli, Turkey starting next year starting in 2023.
The company also announced that it will be producing a new line of vans in Craiova, Romania, including an all-electric version starting in 2024. The company has not disclosed details about the vans, but sources said that "it will be the Ford Transit Courier should replace ". . currently being built in Turkey.
Ford announced in February that its passenger range in Europe will be all-electric by 2030 and expects two-thirds of commercial van sales to be all-electric or plug-in hybrids by the same date.
The company's electrification plans for Europe also include converting two-thirds of commercial vehicle sales to fully electric or plug-in hybrids by 2030.