Ford has chosen its factory in Valencia, Spain, as the place to assemble its future electric cars with its own architecture. Ford announced that electric and connected vehicles will be manufactured there by the end of this decade. The electric car manufacturer does not take its Saarlouis plant into account in these plans; In Cologne, where Ford employs 15,000 people, a “state-of-the-art center for electric vehicles” will be built for 2 billion US dollars.
According to Ford, Valencia operates “the best positioned plant” to manufacture vehicles based on an electrical architecture. This is the result of extensive consultations in Valencia and Saarlouis. The Ford plant in Saarland, which employs 4,600 people, will continue to produce the Ford Focus, and “options for future seating concepts are being evaluated,” Ford said (PDF). To this end, Ford will sit down with workers’ representatives and the Saarland state government.
In the weeks before the relocation decision, the Saarlouis workforce feared for its jobs. Saarland’s Prime Minister Anke Rehlinger (SPD) traveled to the United States in May this year to talk about the seats at Ford’s headquarters in Detroit. So far, car production in Saarlouis has only been secured until 2025, when the production of combustion focus will be phased out.
In an initial statement, Ford’s works council spoke of a “framed game” and a “sham procedure”. They fought and gave everything, were the clear winners in the bidding competition and are now robbed of their successes.
For Benjamin Gruschka, chairman of the German Works Council, the Ford decision is a “complete failure for European headquarters”, it was clear from the start. The only possible reason why the workers’ representatives in Spain and Germany were forced to go through a complex tender process was to “blackmail further concessions from the workers in Valencia, even though working conditions in Spain have already deteriorated significantly over the last 15 years.”
Ford intends to sell 600,000 electric vehicles per year in Europe by 2026. The American company is a latecomer, competitors had previously switched to electromobility. The electric cars, which will be manufactured in Cologne from 2023, are based on Volkswagen’s electric platform. Ford wants to install its own platform in Valencia to build additional electric models.
Industry experts had expected the decision not to place the new platform in Saarlouis. Personnel costs are lower in Spain than in Germany, says Stefan Bratzel from the Polytechnic in Bergisch Gladbach. Some time ago, Ford decided to invest billions in Cologne, where labor costs are also relatively high. However, the location there is much larger and also has many suppliers in its vicinity.
Ford wants to speed up the transition to electromobility, also because the European Parliament recently decided that from 2035, only emission-free new cars may be registered. By 2026, Ford wants to build a total of 2 million electric cars a year.