- The Tourneo, Transit and the Ranger are best-sellers in Europe. Yet statistically they do not count as cars, but commercial vehicles

Ford of Europe's 2030 plan might just make sense

It's easy to pledge manufacturing only electric cars if you switch your business towards commercial vehicles

6w ago
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It's never easy to assess the situation of the Ford Motor Company in Europe, mainly because historically everyone liked their cars. My choice of teenage poster car would always be an Italian, French or Japanese rally machine over an Escort Cosworth or Focus WRC - but it's hard to deny that they always made strong contenders on the tracks and in the showrooms. People cared about Ford, because they were good company cars and a solid choice in every category from the small Ka to the gigantic family-hauler Galaxy. They were important part of the industry too, with many cross-licensing agreements, engine research and development and a huge manufacturing capacity. At some point they owned Volvo, Jaguar, Land Rover and Aston Martin - pumping out millions of cars belonging to the Ford sphere of influence every year.

The future is the Fordwagen - electric VWs with a blue oval stamped on them

The future is the Fordwagen - electric VWs with a blue oval stamped on them

But that was then and this is now - Ford's glory heavily faded and in February they dropped the bomb that after 2030 they will cease manufacturing internal combustion engined cars and they will switch over to electric only. Of course that is going to happen in Europe only and strictly for passenger cars. The Transit, Ranger and other more utlilitarian Ford models are by definition commercial vehicles (LCV: light commercial vehicle >3.5 ton weight), meaning they won't get electrified - at least not in all versions. We also know that Ford EVs of the near future will be primarily based on Volkswagen's ID family, so they ain't going to make as much engineering effort as it first seems. Especially if one considers Ford's probable car market share in Europe by 2030...not great. Ford's sales performance has been sluggish for deacedes and they could be happy if they will have 5% of the car market left for them by 2030, though 3-4% is a more realistic assumption.

Easy to see where Ford's car market share is heading, while the Transit-business is thriving

Easy to see where Ford's car market share is heading, while the Transit-business is thriving

That said the people at Ford of Europe probably aren't crying in their sorrow, they have at least some good news to present to their bosses. The Transit is increasingly becoming the F-150 of Europe: an all-conquering money-making Jolly-joker. So even if Ford reaches their goal of going EV-only in the car segment, they will still be selling hundreds of thousands of diesel vans all around the continent. At a press conference they promised some level of hybridization for the Transit too, but with seemingly less enthusiasm.

Tesla is not the only US company building an EV-plant in Germany, Ford calls this their Cologne "electrification center" where the VW-derived Fords will be assembled

Tesla is not the only US company building an EV-plant in Germany, Ford calls this their Cologne "electrification center" where the VW-derived Fords will be assembled

And now there's life beyond the Transit too. A few years ago the Ford brand returned to the trucking business as well, with the Turkish-designed F-MAX heavy duty meant for European markets. It's unlikely they will quickly win major contracts in such a competitive environment as cab-overs, but they are present and ready to boost the growth of the commercial vehicle segment to counterweight the shrinking car department.

A new euro-Ford: the F-MAX is still hard to come by on roads, but shows the way Ford is moving

A new euro-Ford: the F-MAX is still hard to come by on roads, but shows the way Ford is moving

The bottom-line should be something like this: we have no reason to doubt that after 2030 Fords sold in Europe will really become electric-only. It is absolutely a realistic goal, but we have to accept that by then - unless the EV-mania heavily intensifies in the meantime - Ford will be a niche brand in Europe like Volvo or Seat is today. Ford is increasingly becoming a commercial vehicle manufacturer, thus they can afford to give up on trying to comply with ever-stricter emission standards and just sell badge-engineered Volkswagens if that's what potentially yields the highest profit. The rest of the market however will still need to invest in internal combustion technology for cars. Especially now that they know Ford's market share is up for grabs.

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