Ford begins rolling out all-electric Explorer from Cologne plant | Autocar Professional

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Ford has started mass production of the new all-electric Ford Explorer at its first dedicated electric vehicle (EV) facility in Europe following a $2 billion investment that has transformed a historic plant into a factory of the future.

The electric Ford Explorer is the first vehicle to roll off the line at the Ford Cologne Electric Vehicle Center – a significant step on the road to producing a new generation of high-quality electric passenger vehicles for the region. A second EV, a new sports crossover, will be revealed shortly with production in Cologne starting later this year.

The new all-electric Explorer combines German engineering, American attitude and superior standard specification that includes battery electric powertrains for zero-tailpipe emissions while driving – and more than 600km driving range on a single charge. 1

“To see the Cologne factory founded by Ford in 1930 being transformed into a state-of-the-art electric vehicle production facility is nothing short of amazing. The start of mass production of electric vehicles, with the new all-electric Explorer, marks the beginning of a new era for Ford in Europe,” said Kieran Cahill, vice president, Manufacturing, Ford in Europe and International Markets Group.

The factory of the future
The Cologne Electric Vehicle Center is equipped with cutting-edge AI and a symphony of hundreds of carefully choreographed state-of-the-art robots that will deliver a new generation of high quality EVs in Europe. The plant’s ‘digital twin’ monitors and supports production line operators to deliver high quality standards.

The Cologne Electric Vehicle Center is supported by self-learning machines and more than 600 new robots that execute welding, cutting, dusting, painting and fusing tasks, in a complex ballet to ensure precision, efficiency and quality.

A new control centre monitors the entire assembly process in real time – right down to the quantity of every part and nut at each workstation. The plant’s ‘digital twin’ is displayed via a giant touchscreen containing all workstations with information on tooling, material delivery, work safety and more. With small touchscreens employees on the line provide further information on the status of their workplace.

“By monitoring and controlling every step of the manufacturing process, Ford will achieve unprecedented levels of quality for our customers,” said Rene Wolf, managing director, Manufacturing, Ford-Werke GmbH.

More sustainable production
The Cologne Electric Vehicle Center is one of Ford’s most efficient vehicle assembly plants globally, supported by significant reductions in emissions, water usage and energy consumption.

Ford is working towards implementing a carbon neutrality pathway for the Cologne Electric Vehicle Center. With production now underway, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions data will be monitored and recorded for independent certification according to the latest international standards. Within this carbon neutrality pathway, Ford will continuously improve carbon efficiency and reduce GHG emissions towards a residual level.

In addition to initiatives that reduce emissions, water usage and energy consumption, all electricity and natural gas required to operate the plant is 100 per cent certified renewable electricity 2 and biomethane. Ford is targeting carbon neutrality across its European production footprint of facilities, logistics and direct suppliers by 2035.

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