Ford invests $316M to build electric power units at UK transmission facility

Ford Motor Company is investing $316 million (£230 million) to transform its Halewood, U.K. vehicle transmission facility into an electric power unit plant, making it Ford’s first EV component in-house assembly site in Europe.

The investment is subject to and includes about $42 million (£30 million) from the U.K. government through its Automotive Transformation Fund, according to The Times. Some 500 local automotive jobs will be saved as a result of the investment, the paper said.

Power units produced in the plant will supply all-electric passenger and commercial vehicles sold in Europe, helping the company inch toward its electrification goals. Earlier this year, Ford announced its European strategy to only sell electric vehicles on the continent by 2030 and to only produce electric commercial vehicles in Europe by 2024. The company spent $1 billion to revamp an assembly factory in Cologne, Germany and predicts that electric models will account for two-thirds of its European sales.

The power unit is what replaces the engine and transmission in an ICE vehicle; it manages the flow of electricity delivered by the battery and controls the speed of the electric motor and the torque it produces. Ford estimates power unit production in Halewood will begin in mid-2024, with planned capacity at around 250,000 units per year. The automaker did not respond to requests about whether the power units will be sent to the Cologne facility or elsewhere for assembly.  Historically, the Halewood factory exports 100% of its production, helping to make Ford one of the U.K.’s largest exporters of engines and transmissions from its facilities to “more than 15 countries on six continents, with overseas sales generating around £2.5 billion ($3.5 billion) annually,” according to the company.

“In this highly competitive, global race to secure electric vehicle manufacturing, our priority is to ensure the U.K. reaps the benefits,” Kwasi Kwarteng, the U.K. government’s business secretary and member of parliament, said in a statement. “Today’s announcement, backed by government funding, is a huge vote of confidence in Britain’s economic future and our plans to ramp up electric vehicle production. It will future-proof Halewood’s proud industrial heritage and secure high-skilled, well-paid jobs across the North West for years to come.”

Europe isn’t the only place Ford is expanding its electric capabilities. The automaker has $30 billion to play with by 2025, and the fruits of its labor in China have finally dropped. On Monday, the first Mustang Mach-E manufactured in China rolled off the assembly line. Customers in China will have access to the locally produced Mach-E by the end of the year through Ford’s direct sales network of EV city stores, according to the company. Ford says it’s on track to open 25 stores in major metro areas this year and expand to more than 100 within the next five years.

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