Ford discusses selling German plant to BYD, marking a new era for electric vehicles

Ford is considering selling its manufacturing plant in Germany to EV maker BYD, signaling a big step for Chinese-made electric vehicles.

As Ford winds down production of its once best-selling Ford Focus at its Saarlouis manufacturing plant in Germany to focus on electric vehicles, the automaker is looking to part ways with the facility.

According to a new report from the Wall Street Journal, Ford’s plant may go to none other than China’s largest EV maker, BYD. BYD, or “Build Your Dreams,” produced its final combustion vehicle in 2022 to align its focus on electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids.

The leading Chinese EV maker has quickly expanded its network, launching a market trial in Norway in 2020, kick-starting its European campaign, and announcing plans to sell EVs in Japan.

BYD looks to become a global leader in EVs with a growing European presence. The company said it would start selling EVs in Germany and Sweden by the end of 2022 while expanding into the UK, France, and other major markets this year.

Before the end of the year, BYD confirmed plans to build at least one manufacturing plant (maybe two) in Europe to support the expansion and put it in a position to become a global EV powerhouse.

BYD in talks to buy Ford’s German plant

As discussions heat up between Ford and BYD, Germany could be the next home for its EV manufacturing footprint. The WSJ reported Tuesday that “officials from Ford’s management in Germany are planning to travel to China next week to discuss the potential sale of a plant in Saarlouis.”

Talks are still in the early stages, and the deal may not come to fruition. According to the report, BYD was among around 15 potential investors.

Meanwhile, Ford has committed to an all-electric lineup in Europe by 2035, but as the company aligns its production strategy for electric vehicles, it has implemented several rounds of layoffs.

Last summer, Ford cut 8,000 jobs after CEO Jim Farley said the automaker had too many employees and needed to downsize. More recently, Ford of Europe announced 2,500 to 4,000 product development jobs could be in jeopardy, primarily in Germany and the UK, as it shifts away from combustion vehicles and focuses on EVs like the Mustang Mach-E.

Electrek’s Take

Although BYD’s sales are primarily concentrated in China, the automaker is rapidly expanding its network. An EV manufacturing plant in Germany would be a big step for Chinese electric vehicles, but domestic automakers may not be thrilled.

European automakers are accelerating their EV strategies in response. Volkswagen led the region, delivering 330,000 EVs globally in 2022, followed by BMW (215,755 deliveries) and Mercedes-Benz (117,800 total EV deliveries).

To maintain its lead, Volkswagen is bringing back the former Bentley and Audi head who oversaw the launch of the e-tron as Volkswagen brand’s chief designer.

As demand for electric vehicles heats up, the industry is undergoing significant changes. Legacy automakers are transitioning from combustion to electric, while dedicated EV makers are expanding production as quickly as possible.

A BYD investment in Ford’s German plant could shake the industry further. We’ll update you when we hear more about the final details.

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