Ford opens Cologne EV Centre - first carbon neutral assembly plant

Ford has opened its first carbon neutral assembly plant in Cologne, Germany, the Cologne Electric Vehicle Centre, which will build Ford’s new generation of electric passenger vehicles for millions of European customers.
Ford opens Cologne EV Centre - first carbon neutral assembly plant
Courtesy of Ford.

For has transformed its historic plant in Niehl, Cologne – founded in 1930 – into a hi-tech production facility in Germany as part of a $2 billion investment which represents a major vote of confidence in skilled German manufacturing jobs and the future of automotive production in Europe.

Designed to be highly efficient, the 125-hectare site is equipped with a brand-new production line, battery assembly and state-of-the-art tooling and automation, enabling an annual production capacity of 250,000+ EVs. Following the success of Mustang Mach-E, E-Transit and F-150 Lightning, Ford recently unveiled its fourth EV globally, the electric Explorer, which will be the first electric vehicle to be produced in Cologne, followed by a second electric vehicle, a sports crossover.

The Cologne EV Centre 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.

“Opening the Cologne EV Centre is the start of a new generation of clean manufacturing and electric vehicles in Europe” said Bill Ford, executive chair. “This facility will now be one of the most efficient and environmentally responsible plants in the entire industry. I am thrilled to continue working toward a zero emissions future for our children and grandchildren.”

The opening of the Cologne EV Centre is the latest chapter in the long history of the Ford Cologne plant, which has been at the heart of the European automotive industry since 1930. Iconic vehicles built at the site have included the Ford Model A, Capri, Granada and Fiesta.

“The Electric Vehicle Centre represents a fresh start and is the largest investment in the company's history at the Ford plant in Cologne” added Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz. “This is good news for Cologne, for the auto industry in Germany, for e-mobility and for the new era.”

At the core of the Cologne EV Centre are digital advancements that connect machines, vehicles and workers. Implementing self-learning machines, autonomous transport systems and big data management in real time are integral to improve the efficiency of the production processes and get better over time, assuring high quality.

Ford is also going a step further to support, not supersede human excellence. 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.

To achieve carbon neutrality, Ford will reduce the use of energy and emissions in the plant by the installation of new processes, machinery, and technologies. All electricity and natural gas required to operate the facility is carbon neutral based on being 100 per cent certified renewable electricity and biomethane.

The heat required to warm the facility and processes is carbon neutral, as the local energy provider will offset the corresponding emissions from the assembly plant on behalf of Ford. The heat is generated by an external power plant and waste incineration plant and provided through a dedicated steam network to Ford.

The local energy provider plans to reduce their operating emissions for this heat delivery by approximately 60 per cent in 2026 and then eliminate these emissions completely by 2035. Once fully operational, Ford Cologne’s EV Centre will be independently certified as carbon neutral. This independent certification will be audited and reconciled on a regular basis against purchasing high quality carbon offsets for any remaining emissions.

The technological upgrade of the Ford Cologne EV Centre is accompanied by an ecological improvement of biodiversity and the ecological balance of the existing factory greenspace. Installed measures include a new perennial forb vegetation, change of ecologically poor grass areas to wildflower meadows and insect hotels as well as bat and bird habitats.

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