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Ford pushes back Explorer series production in Europe

Auto Shanghai show, in Shanghai

By Jan Schwartz

MUNICH (Reuters) - Ford will push back series production of its long-awaited SUV Explorer model at its Cologne site by around six months to wait for a new generation of Volkswagen battery technology to be available, its Germany chief said on Monday.

Production will now begin in the summer of next year, he said in an interview on the sidelines of Munich's IAA car show, adding discussions were underway on what this meant for the Cologne workforce.

The carmaker said in February it planned to cut one in nine jobs in Europe, including 2,300 jobs at its Cologne and Aachen sites in Germany, but committed to no compulsory redundancies at either site before the end of 2032.

The U.S. carmaker sells two all-electric SUVs and an e-Transit van in Europe, but seven new models are in the pipeline by 2024, including two produced in Cologne and one in Romania.

Production of the second new model in Cologne, also built on Volkswagen's MEB platform, will start a few weeks after the first, Sander said.

Ford had not set specific output targets for the new models, but would not use the entire Cologne plant's capacity of 250,000 at first, Sander said, instead ramping up production in line with rising demand for electric cars.

The company saw 516,614 new passenger cars registered in Europe last year - a market share of 4.6%, according to European autos association ACEA - but is planning an ambitious ramp up to over 600,000 EV sales in Europe by 2026.

(Reporting by Jan Schwartz, Writing by Victoria Waldersee; Editing by Tomasz Janowski)