Another day, another automaker making promises about electric vehicles. Today’s company is Ford, which has vowed to make all European automotive sales electric-only by 2030.
This comes with the footnote of having the ability to soften that promise with plug-in hybrids. But, since this is all about corporate virtue signaling, that’s not what automakers tend to lead with. The industry wants to focus upon net-zero carbon emissions, sustainability, and other buzz terms that allow something to sound environmentally friendly without our needing to check if that’s actually the case. By the time 2030 comes around, only a few dozen people are even going to remember these promises if they’re not kept anyway — giving companies another opportunity to move the goalpost.
On the upside, electrification promises hold more water than the ongoing mobility hustle that was supposed to deliver self-driving automobiles by 2020. At the very least, we know EVs exist and Ford has the capability to manufacturer them in limited numbers. Blue Oval is even investing $1 billion investment in a new electric vehicle manufacturing center in Cologne for the expressed purpose of building electric cars for the European market. Now that the brand has successfully regained profitability within the region, Ford thinks it can start producing EVs at the plant in 2023.
But we would be a lot more confident about the automaker’s bold claims on electrification if Ford expressed any interest in manufacturing its own batteries and didn’t make exceptions for its 2030 EV timeline by way of hybridization. The company stated that it wants its European lineup to be entirely “zero-emissions capable all-electric or plug-in hybrid” by 2026.
The word capable leaves a lot open to interpretation. Theoretically, all companies are zero-emissions capable whether or not that’s true in practice. You’re capable of winning the lottery but that doesn’t mean you’re going to. Fortunately, Ford also issued an iron-clad promise that it would transmission entirely to battery-driven cars in Europe by 2030. While we’re pleased to see any manufacturer speaking in absolute terms, it always feels odd that automakers are vowing to tailor their product planning around the ever-changing whims of government. Whatever happened to the customer?
More details are supposed to be provided about the new Germany factory in the coming months. But Ford seems excited about being able to bring some jobs back into the region after some necessary restructuring and the ability to someday tout itself as an EV manufacturer.
“The decision to make the production and development site in Cologne the e-mobility center for Ford in Europe is an important signal to the entire workforce,” said Martin Hennig, chairman of the General Works Council of Ford-Werke GmbH. “It offers a long-term perspective for our employees and at the same time encourages them to help shape this electric future.”
[Image: Ford Motor Co.]