By Nick Carey
HALEWOOD, England (Reuters) - Ford Motor Co will invest an extra 149 million pounds ($180 million) to raise electric vehicle (EV) power unit capacity at its engine factory in northern England by 70%, as the U.S. carmaker accelerates its push to go electric.
The Detroit-based carmaker said on Thursday the additional funds will boost electric drive unit production capacity at the Halewood plant to 420,000 units annually from 250,000 units starting in 2024. The move would bring Ford's total investment to transition the combustion engine factory to EV parts production to 380 million pounds.
"Our vision in Europe is to build a thriving business, by extending leadership in commercial vehicles and through the electrification of our car range," Kieran Cahill, Ford's vice president for industrial operations in Europe, said in a statement. "Halewood is playing a critical part as our first in-house investment in EV component manufacturing in Europe."
The EV power unit, which consists of an electric motor and gearbox, replaces the engine and transmission of a fossil-fuel vehicle.
Ford has committed to selling only fully-electric cars in Europe by 2030, and electric commercial vans only by 2035. That puts it ahead of the European Union's plans to effectively ban the sale of new fossil-fuel passenger cars by 2035.
The carmaker said Halewood should supply 70% of the 600,000 EVs the company plans to sell in Europe annually by 2026.
The latest Ford investment includes 125 million pounds in the plant itself and 24 million pounds into developing and testing new EV parts for production at Halewood.
The UK government contributed to the initial EV power unit investment at Halewood, which was announced by Ford last year.
($1 = 0.8326 pounds)
(Reporting By Nick Carey; editing by Edward Tobin)