Ford Europe focuses on electric and divides up its operations

Ford will divide into separate electric and combustion engine business units

Ford’s plan for nine all-electric vehicles by 2024

Ford has given us a small glimpse of its new family-sized all-electric car, which will be based on the same battery-powered MEB chassis as used by Volkswagen. Ford has signed a number of co-operation agreements with VW in the past few years, especially in the world of commercial vehicles, but this new model - which will be roughly the same size as a Nissan Ariya or VW ID.4 - will be the first passenger car to come from the partnership.

The new model will be a keystone of Ford’s plans to sell more than 600,000 electric cars to European customers every year by 2026. To back up the new crossover, Ford also showed an occluded image of a second all-electric vehicle based on VW’s MEB platform, which it calls a ‘Sport Crossover.’

While we can infer that the cars will have one-charge ranges of up to 520km, and use a combination of 150hp, 204hp, and 299hp four-wheel drive motor layouts we can also take a guess at what they might be called.

In recent months, Ford has filed trademark claims for some of its classic nameplates - including Capri, Cortina, Granada, Orion, and Escort - to be used in Europe, Australia, and New Zealand. If we had to guess (and that's all we can do for now) we'd suggest that the new crossover might just be called Cortina, while the sport crossover model might pick up the Capri or Granada name.


Ford reckons that leaning on its heritage in this way - as it has with the Mustang Mach-E electric SUV - gives it something of an edge among European customers.

"Let me assure you that these products will absolutely look like Fords, they'll drive like Fords, and the experiences that we provide through our new Model E business unit will provide customers with a unique purchase and ownership experience" said Ford of Europe chair Stuart Rowley.

The two MEB-based cars will be part of a seven-strong electric car lineup to be launched by 2026. Electrification has given Ford something of a boost in recent months. The electric Mustang Mach-E SUV has been selling well, and Rowley claimed that nine out of ten Mach-E buyers are conquest customers, and new to the Ford brand.

To capitalise on this, Rowley announced that Ford will launch an all-electric version of the popular Puma compact crossover in 2024. No details were given on range nor battery capacity, but it will need to offer at least 320km on one charge to be competitive with the likes of Peugeot's e-2008 and Opel's Mokka-e.

It will be built alongside the petrol-powered Puma in the Craiova plant in Romania, where production of the older EcoSport is to be wound down, and will be Ford's second fully-electric passenger car, alongside the Mustang Mach-E.

An electric Puma infers the possible existence of an electric Fiesta, to take on the likes of Renault’s Zoe and Peugeot’s e-208, but Rowley demurred on making any battery Fiesta announcement, preferring to concentrate on discussing the MEB-based models.

Both of the cars will be built at Ford's primary Eueopean factory in Cologne, Germany. Ford has also committed to making its cars in carbon-neutral factories, starting with Cologne, with an investment of $2 billion to make the new MEB-based cars there.

Rowley says that Ford's European operations will be fully carbon-neutral by 2035. Ford is going to couple with battery specialist SKR to build a vast 'gigafactory' for commercial vehicle batteries, which will be built near Ankara in Turkey. By 2030, Ford's global battery construction plans will reach 240 gigawatt-hours and the Ankara plant will contribute up to 45gWh of that.


Rowley also announced that Ford of Europe will follow the lead of its North American operations, and will divide the company into separate silos to concentrate on electric and commercial vehicles.

In the US, Ford has announced that it will divide in two - Ford Model E will focus on the creation and construction of fully-electric vehicles, while Ford Blue will focus (and presumably focus on eventually winding down) internal combustion vehicles. There are further divisions within the plan - Ford Pro looks after commercial vehicles, while Ford Drive focuses on designing software systems. Finally, Ford Credit does what it has always done, and provides loans and PCP finance to customers.

Ford of Europe will focus on two of those divisions - Model E for electric cars, and Pro for commercial vehicles. Rowley made three commitments at the announcement of the plan.

“First, we will accelerate the move to an all-electric portfolio of passenger vehicles by 2030, and fully-electric commercial vehicles by 2035. Second, we will deliver on the promise of a connected world and offer mobility solutions and services that truly redefine what it means to own and drive a Ford. Third, we will implement a European sustainability strategy and make a positive contribution to society and the environment, managing our CO2 budget in line with the Paris climate agreement.”

Key to these plans will be the launch of a new fully-electric Ford Transit van, sales of which will begin later this year. The Transit is something of a cash-cow for Ford right now, and the company claims that it is the best-selling van in the world. Switching those customers to electric won’t be easy, but will be critical for Ford’s bottom line. “The orders for the electric Transit are going up daily” said Rowley.” We expect to have 7,000 vehicles in customers’ hands by the end of this year.”

“Ford Model E will be Ford’s centre of innovation and growth, a team of the world’s best software, electrical and automotive talent turned loose to create truly incredible electric vehicles and digital experiences for new generations of Ford customers.

"Ford Blue's mission is to deliver a more profitable and vibrant ICE business, strengthen our successful and iconic vehicle families and earn greater loyalty by delivering incredible service and experiences. It's about harnessing a century of hardware mastery to help build the future. This team will be hellbent on delivering leading quality, attacking waste in every corner of the business, maximising cash flow and optimising our industrial footprint" said Ford's global chairman, Jim Farley.

As part of the restructure, Ford wants to expand its use of small, agile vehicle development teams. Such teams were brought together to create the likes of the GT supercar, the Mustang Mach-E, and the F-150 Lighting electric pickup outside the sluggish, traditional Ford corporate structure. Quite how that kind of mentality will be applied to the entire company is something that’s still open to question.

Ford’s promise that the Model E Division will “lead on creating an exciting new shopping, buying and ownership experience for its future electric vehicle customers that includes simple, intuitive e-commerce platforms, transparent pricing and personalised customer support from Ford ambassadors.”

That sounds a lot like the subscription payment model that many car makers are moving towards for optional extras and vehicle upgrades. Eventually, it may see customers having to make micro-purchases for items such as automatic high-beam headlights, or unlocking higher performance options. It will also allow Ford to potentially ‘wipe’ such options from used cars, ensuring that second-hand buyers will have to pay to have them restored. Consumer groups have previously attacked similar plans announced by other car makers.

As part of the restructuring Rowley, also moves up to a global position to try to improve the perception of Ford’s quality levels, and to “establish quality as a reason to choose a Ford.”

Neil Briscoe

Neil Briscoe

Neil Briscoe, a contributor to The Irish Times, specialises in motoring