Ford opens Cologne EV Centre, its first carbon-neutral assembly plant

Transforms its Cologne plant set up in 1930 with a brand-new production line, battery assembly and state-of-the-art tooling and automation, enabling annual production of over 250,000 EVs.

Autocar Pro News Desk By Autocar Pro News Desk calendar 13 Jun 2023 Views icon6538 Views Share - Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to LinkedIn Share to Whatsapp
Ford opens Cologne EV Centre, its first carbon-neutral assembly plant

Ford has opened its Cologne Electric Vehicle Center, a hi-tech production facility in Germany that will build Ford’s new generation of electric passenger vehicles for European customers.

Ford has transformed its plant in Niehl, Cologne – founded in 1930 – as part of a $2 billion investment which represents a major vote of confidence in skilled German manufacturing jobs and the future of automotive production in Europe.

Designed to be highly efficient, the 125-hectare site is equipped with a brand-new production line, battery assembly and state-of-the-art tooling and automation, enabling an annual production capacity of over 250,000 EVs. Following the success of Mustang Mach-E, E-Transit and F-150 Lightning, Ford recently unveiled its fourth EV globally, the electric Explorer, which will be the first electric vehicle to be produced in Cologne, followed by a second electric vehicle, a sports crossover.

The Cologne EV Center will be Ford’s first carbon-neutral assembly plant to open globally and supports the company’s commitment to reach carbon neutrality across its entire European footprint 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.”

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

A new era for Ford in Europe
The opening of the Cologne EV Center is the latest chapter in the long history of the Ford Cologne plant, which has been at the heart of the European automotive industry since 1930. Iconic vehicles built at the site have included the Ford Model A, Capri, Granada and Fiesta.

Over more than 90 years, the Ford plant in Cologne has produced over 18 million cars as one of Ford’s most efficient plants worldwide, enabling freedom of mobility for millions of Europeans.

“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.”

At the core of the Cologne EV Center are digital advancements that connect machines, vehicles and workers. Implementing self-learning machines, autonomous transport systems and big data management in real time are integral to improve the efficiency of the production processes and get better over time, assuring high quality.

Ford is also going a step further to support, not supersede human excellence. New cognitive and collaborative robots, and augmented reality solutions will support its employees and will increase efficiencies and data exchange with other plants to share experiences in real time.

Carbon neutral EV facility
To achieve carbon neutrality, Ford will reduce the use of energy and emissions in the plant by the installation of new processes, machinery, and technologies. All electricity and natural gas required to operate the facility is carbon neutral based on being 100 per cent certified renewable electricity and biomethane.

The heat required to warm the facility and processes is carbon neutral, as the local energy provider will offset the corresponding emissions from the assembly plant on behalf of Ford. The heat is generated by an external power plant and waste incineration plant and provided through a dedicated steam network to Ford.

The local energy provider plans to reduce their operating emissions for this heat delivery by approximately 60 per cent in 2026 and then eliminate these emissions completely by 2035. Once fully operational, Ford Cologne’s EV Center will be independently certified as carbon neutral. This independent certification will be audited and reconciled on a regular basis against purchasing high quality carbon offsets for any remaining emissions.

The technological upgrade of the Ford Cologne EV Center is accompanied by an ecological improvement of biodiversity and the ecological balance of the existing factory greenspace.

Installed measures include a new perennial forb vegetation, change of ecologically poor grass areas to wildflower meadows and 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.

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