In 38 B.C., a Germanic tribe called the Ubii settled in an area on the banks of the Rhine River.
Back then it was called “Oppidum Ubiorum,” but things changed rapidly and now that location is called Cologne, the fourth most-populous city in Germany.
Ford (F) – Get Free Report clearly took a liking to the place, as the automaker just opened its Cologne Electric Vehicle Center that will be the company’s next generation of EVs for European customers.
The facility represents a $2 billion investment to transform the historic plant, which was founded in 1930.
“The Ford Company has ordered Edmund Koerner, Essen an architect, to begin the construction of quays and workships at a total cost of $1,000,000,” the New York Times reported on Jan. 19, 1930.
The facility produced over 18 million cars since opening its doors, including the Ford Model A, Taurus, Capri, Granada, and Fiesta.
The Start of ‘New Generation’
In October the Dearborn, Mich., automaker announced the retirement of the Ford Fiesta sedan, a model produced since 1976.
The center will be Ford’s first carbon neutral assembly plant to open globally and supports the company’s commitment to reach carbon neutrality across its entire European footprint of facilities, logistics and direct suppliers by 2035.
The 125-hectare site is equipped with a new production line, battery assembly and state-of-the-art tooling and automation, the car maker said, enabling an annual production capacity of more than 250,000 EVs.
The Explorer, a five-seat family SUV, will be the first electric vehicle to be produced in Cologne, Ford said on June 12, and will be followed by an electric crossover.
“Opening the Cologne EV Center is the start of a new generation of clean manufacturing and electric vehicles in Europe,” Bill Ford, executive chair, said in a statement.
The legacy carmaker plans to sell 600,000 fully electric cars in Europe in 2026 before going 100% electric by 2035.
Center to Have ‘Cognitive Robots’
Ford said the Cologne center will feature digital advancements that connect machines, vehicles and workers and implement “self-learning machines, autonomous transport systems and big data management in real time.”
“Ford is also going a step further to support, not supersede human excellence,” the company said. “New cognitive and collaborative robots, and augmented reality solutions will support its employees and will increase efficiencies and data exchange with other plants to share experiences in real time.”
The German Institute for Economic Research reported in January that the country had crossed the 1 million electric vehicle mark.
The German government is aiming to see 15 million electric cars on the roads by 2030, but current sales are making this target increasingly difficult to reach, according to a Berlin-based think tank.
Electric vehicles have proven to be a challenge for Ford. Last month, the company said its Model e division, which specializes in battery powered vehicles, recorded a first-quarter loss before interest and taxes of $700 million.