Ford’s entire passenger car and SUV range in Europe looks set to ditch internal-combustion power by the end of the decade.
Ford has confirmed overnight its entire passenger vehicle line-up in Europe – which includes everything from 'conventional' passenger cars such as the Fiesta and Focus hatchbacks (and their sporty ST flagships) and the Mustang sports car, to SUVs including the Escape and Puma – will offer an all-electric or plug-in hybrid option by mid-2026, before switching to electric power alone by 2030.
Of greater interest to the majority of Ford buyers in Australia will be the brand's plans to electrify its commercial vehicle range, which will see vehicles such as the popular Ranger ute and Transit van offer a plug-in hybrid or all-electric option by 2024, with two-thirds of commercial sales to be electrified in Europe by 2030.
Unlike the pledge for its passenger car and SUV range, the Blue Oval's European arm has not set a date for its van and pick-up ranges to switch exclusively to electric propulsion, likely due to the popularity of conventional petrol and diesel engines in commercial vehicle segments versus passenger-focused models.
A petrol-electric plug-in hybrid version of the next-generation Ford Ranger ute is rumoured to be in the works, though its inclusion of a petrol engine means it's unclear whether it would be offered in the diesel-dominant Australian market.
Above and top: Ford's first standalone electric vehicle, the Mustang Mach-E.
Should the hybrid Ranger come to fruition – and make the journey Down Under – expect it to arrive some time after the launch of standard diesel-powered versions of the ute, understood to be due in 2022.
On the passenger car front, Ford of Europe's announcement indicates thirstier models in the brand's line-up on the Continent, namely V8-powered versions of the Mustang sports car, will go all-electric by 2030 – aligning with reports from January 2021, indicating the next generation of the iconic pony car will enter production in late 2028 with all-electric power.
Alternatively, Ford could simply opt to delete the model from its European range altogether, allowing it to continue on with petrol-only power in markets including the US and Australia, and thus escaping the European arm's targets.
Leading the brand's charge into its all-electric future is a US$1 billion (AU$1.3 billion) investment into its factory in Cologne, Germany – currently home to production of the Fiesta city car – to "transform the existing vehicle assembly operations into the Ford Cologne Electrification Center for the manufacture of electric vehicles (EVs), Ford’s first such facility in Europe."
The upgraded site will commence production of a new "European-built, volume all-electric passenger vehicle" in 2023 designed for the European market, with production of a second electric model at the plant "under consideration".
Above: Ford Escape ST-Line plug-in hybrid.
It's possible the Cologne-built EV will be based on Volkswagen's MEB all-electric architecture, given a Ford-badged electric vehicle riding on the German brand's platform was confirmed in June 2020 for launch in 2023, as part of a wider partnership between the two marques that will spawn the next-generation Ford Ranger and Volkswagen Amarok pick-ups, and a range of vans.
"Our announcement today to transform our Cologne facility, the home of our operations in Germany for 90 years, is one of the most significant Ford has made in over a generation. It underlines our commitment to Europe and a modern future with electric vehicles at the heart of our strategy for growth," said Stuart Rowley, president of Ford of Europe.
Ford's sales and growth in Europe will be further boosted by a number of new services and ventures with other car and technology brands, including the introduction of connected FordPass Pro and Ford Fleet Management services for business commercial vehicle fleets, and the aforementioned joint-venture alliance with Volkswagen.
Also in the Blue Oval's plans is its recently-announced, six-year partnership with Google from 2023, which will see the technology giant's Android operating system underpin future Ford vehicles' infotainment systems, and its data analytics technologies leveraged to "accelerate the automaker's digital transformation, modernise operations, and power connected vehicle technologies".
Further details of Ford's electrification plan in Europe, along with the "transformation" of the Cologne plant, will be announced "over the coming months."
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