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Ford set to bring Mach E production to Europe
Deal with new battery partner is in place, Ford source says
Legacy US automaker Ford is developing a European EV manufacturing strategy in conjunction with a new battery partner and is set to bring Mustang Mach-E production to Europe, a source at the firm tells EV inFocus.
Ford is pursuing a European manufacturing strategy led by electric SUVs such as the Explorer, and the Mach-E is expected to eventually form part of this strategy and be "a European car built in Europe for Europeans," the source says.
When asked if Ford might make batteries in Europe with a South Korean partner, he adds, "I imagine so. It might already be happening."
The Mach-E is currently made in Mexico and exported worldwide. As of the end of October, Ford has produced 84,633 Mach-E models and sold 31,614 in the US, with much of the rest as export stock. But when approached, Ford has repeatedly declined to offer sales figures for the Mach-E in Europe or other export markets.
The source confirms that Ford executives have reached an agreement with a new battery partner whose identity they have not revealed. “Someone at Ford knows who it is,” the source adds.
This comes a day after Ford CFO John Lawler said that company will also be “pulling back on the amount of vertical integration”, adding that Ford is reviewing its battery sourcing options.
“We have two of the best and most accomplished EV technologists in the industry between Doug Field and Alan Clarke. And those guys are really thinking through very clearly, not just this iteration, but the next iteration, where do you get that competitive advantage? And where should we be investing versus partnering and where we should just go out and buy?” Lawler told analysts at the Barclays Global Automotive and Mobility Tech conference on Thursday.
The European plan will utilise existing factory capacity in Europe. Ford opened a factory in Cologne, Germany which the company says “will build Ford’s new generation of electric passenger vehicles for millions of European customers”. In addition, Ford is set to focus EV production, including future Mach-E production at its plants in Craiova, Romania, Kocaeli, Turkey, and Valencia, Spain.
And this is "not because of protectionism reasons or because of a certain political power, but just because it makes sense", the source says, for a circular recycling economy for components and for localising supply chains to minimise inefficiencies.
Ford wants to maintain its adaptability in the face of an uncertain macro environment. One benefit to having relaxed EV production targets is the ability to update vehicle and component designs to fit a fast-changing, relatively nascent market.
"Everything in here can be changed," the source says. "It is just the skateboard and the body on top. All we change is the ingredients in the battery."
"We do not want to be rolling out cars and recalling them and recalling them", the source explains, noting that one benefit of holding off firm commitments in EV production targets is continual redesign to avoid rapidly evolving technology leading to early obsolescence of relatively young EVs.
A new battery partner in Europe may mean decoupling from Chinese battery market leader Catl, whose agreement with Ford in the US has attracted criticism for allowing a Chinese player into the US market through the back door. Catl is the most likely providers of the Mach-E’s current LFP battery, although Ford has never confirmed this.
“You need to reduce reliance on other parts of the world,” the source says. “As suppliers change, you will start to see less reliance for materials on certain parts of the world.”