April 3, 2018 / 10:20 AM / 3 months ago

Ford could make electric cars in Germany after 2023: Handelsblatt

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Ford could make electric cars in Germany after 2023, when the life cycle of Ford’s Fiesta model is due to end, the head of the carmaker’s German business told a paper, adding he would welcome state subsidies to support the shift.

The Ford logo is seen at the New York Auto Show in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., March 29, 2018. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

“Purely hypothetically that (2023) could be a good time for it,” Gunnar Herrmann told German business daily Handelsblatt in an interview published on Tuesday,

He said it would take around 15 months to retool the company’s plant in Cologne but said it would not be worth the investment if sales of electric cars reached only 30,000 or 40,000 vehicles a year.

“It will be possible if the sales’ numbers are moving up more powerfully. Unfortunately, today electric cars are not especially profitable yet,” said Herrmann.

German premium carmaker BMW last week echoed Hermann’s comments, saying it would not mass produce electric cars until 2020 because its current technology is not profitable enough to scale up for volume production.

U.S. carmaker Ford plans to invest $5 billion in electric vehicles by 2022 and introduce at least 13 electric or hybrid models worldwide in the next five years and aims to make its first fully electric vehicle in Europe in 2020.

Herrmann suggested that the western German state of North Rhine-Westphalia, where Ford’s Cologne plant is located, could offer subsidies to support the shift to electric vehicles.

“The state could do its part to initiate the structural shift, as could the federal government,” he said.

Germany’s new coalition government plans to ease the tax burden on drivers of electric vehicles, provide at least an additional 100,000 charge points across the country and subsidize car-sharing to push a shift to greener transportation.

There are also plans to provide funding for research into autonomous driving technology and support the establishment of battery cell production in Germany.

Reporting By Riham Alkousaa and Alexandra Hudson

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