November 30th, 2020 by Steve Hanley
Unlike General Motors, which withdrew from the European market when it sold its Opel division to PSA Group, Ford continues to do business on the Continent and is looking to the future. Last July, Ford and Volkswagen concluded an agreement that allows Ford to utilize VW’s MEB electric car chassis as the basis of its own electric cars. That chassis is already being used to build the ID.3 and ID.4 cars in Zwickau and will be the starting point for the ID. Buzz that will go into production in Hannover in 2022.
Citing several German media sources, Electrive reports that Ford recently selected its factory in Köln, known to English speakers as Cologne, to produce the first Ford branded electric car to use the MEB chassis. The other factories under consideration were Saarlouis, 200 kilometres to the south, and the Romanian plant in Craiowa.
The plan is to launch the MEB based vehicle in 2023. Over the next several years, Ford expects to deliver more than 600,000 examples of the car, which will “combine generous space with the advantages of an electric drive,” according to the company. In fact, there may be a second MEB based vehicle in the works. A report by Handelsblatt from last year quoted Stuart Rowley, head of Ford Europe as saying, “Yes, we are talking about it.” From an economic point of view, he said, it would not make sense to produce just one car on the MEB chassis.
Electrive says Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess told employees in a staff newspaper recently the company is talking to Ford about a completely new supply contract for a second vehicle. For its part, Volkswagen has always been open to collaboration with other automakers who are interested in using the MEB platform for their own products. Volkswagen describes Ford’s use of that platform as “an important cornerstone in Volkswagen’s electromobility strategy.”
The proof of the pudding may be in a companion story. Last week, local news source Kölner Stadtanzeiger reported that Magnetti Marelli, a Tier One supplier to the automotive industry, is planning to construct a factory to manufacture electric motors and other driveline components for electric cars. According to several media sources, Electrive says the Marelli factory will be co-located with the the newly reconfigured Kōln factory. Ford of Europe apparently plans to invest $2 billion to upgrade that factory for EV production.
Why would Volkswagen share its MEB platform with other companies? Simple. Economies of scale. The more MEB chassis produced, the lower the unit cost. Selling them to other companies also will help bring some money in the door to help pay for Volkswagen’s transition to an electric vehicle maker while remaining profitable. The benefit for EV advocates is, the more electric car models there are available, the faster the EV revolution will proceed. It will be interesting to see how Ford products differ from Volkswagen models based on the MEB chassis
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