As it continues to look for a spot to build a new EV battery plant in the U.S. following Virginia’s rejection, The Blue Oval is also in the process of closing certain plants in other international markets – including the Saarlouis Assembly plant in Germany, which is slated to stop production in 2025. In the meantime, the automaker has been looking for a buyer for that particular facility, and has thus far received interest from Chinese EV automaker BYD, along with a handful of other potential suitors. As Ford Authority reported last week, it’s unclear if BYD will actually pursue such a purchase, but according to Reuters, Germany wouldn’t block that prospective sale if it does.
This is notable because Ford is also teaming up with CATL to build a new EV plant in the U.S., but that prospective project has been criticized by some for the latter company’s Chinese roots. Regardless, Germany’s state premier, Anke Rehlinger, doesn’t agree with those sentiments. “To be honest, Ford is an American company and we didn’t like the decisions they made. (Country of origin) is not the only criteria,” she explained.
“That there are situations and circumstances in China which we do not like from a human rights position is clear, and it is important we reiterate that. But we have also had a positive experience with Svolt,” Rehlinger added, referring to the Chinese battery cell maker that already operates a plant in Saarland. “I do not discriminate by geography.”
BYD is exploring the idea of building its own facility in Europe, where it’s aiming to establish its own sales and dealer networks. The company has become China’s largest producer of EVs over the years, capitalizing on making affordable all-electric models for the masses. As for the Ford Saarlouis plant, it’s scheduled to end production in 2025, and has reportedly received interest from 15 possible buyers, including Magna International and contract manufacturer VDL Nedcar, both of which currently produce vehicles for a variety of automotive manufacturers already.