BYD wants a slice of the European market.
Chinese manufacturer BYD is on a shortlist of buyers for Ford's assembly plant in Saarlouis, Germany. The plant currently builds the Focus, but production will end in 2025. Ford will not need the factory beyond 2025 as it's shifting over to a truck, SUV, and EV business model.
The Wall Street Journal spoke to sources familiar with the manner, and apparently, Ford executives will travel to China soon to discuss the deal. It's still early days, and the deal might still fall through.
There are 15 interested investors, but the terms of the deal are unknown. Ford is under pressure to find an investor, as the Saarlouis plant employs approximately 4,600 workers. Ford chose to decommission the plant and decided to upgrade its Valencia facility to produce electric cars and commercial vans.
According to Saarlouis' works council chief Markus Thal, possible investors include energy and car assembly companies. A few OEMs are also interested, including BYD. Thal also stated that Ford wants to present the plant's future by the end of the first quarter of this year.
"We need a plan urgently," Thal said, as per Automotive News Europe. The factory workers can't afford to wait until 2024 to find out what the future holds, and where the investment comes from is not a primary concern. However, Ford and the regional government need to sign off on the buyer before the factory is sold.
This news comes mere days after a report suggesting the European Union was on track to cut its reliance on Chinese-sourced batteries if it used the benefits provided by President Biden's Inflation Reduction Act.
Out of all the Chinese manufacturers, BYD poses the biggest threat to Western automakers. BYD increased its sales by 315% over the first half of 2022, presenting the first serious threat to Tesla we've come across. It has close ties with Toyota and recently launched a new, unfortunately-named sub-brand, YangWang. While the name is funny, the products are anything but.
BYD offers a range of models, some of which are already available in Europe. The Chinese conglomerate will likely use the German facility to sell models based on the e-TNGA platform, also used by the Toyota bZ4X. That name association will likely do wonders for the brand in Europe.
BYD also had plans to sell cars in the USA but hit pause due to the previously mentioned Inflation Reduction Act and product prejudice, even though BYD's biggest shareholder is Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway, based in the US.
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