Interview with the boss of Ford Germany Martin Sander

Interview with the boss of Ford Germany Martin Sander

Where is Ford currently in terms of industry and brand change?

Ford’s transformation in Europe means moving from a multi-segment player to a brand that will be defined more by the light commercial vehicle business in the future. We have been a leader in light commercial vehicles for many years and will continue to do so. In the passenger car sector, we focus on cars based on Ford icons; emotional and unique and, above all, different from other providers. An excellent example of this is the electric Explorer, based on one of our most successful models. In the future, we will see more cars like this that clearly focus on the quality of the brand as an American automaker. This is a big job, but we are making great progress.

Will Adventurous Spirit continue to be the focus?

Yes, but I would like to expand it further. In addition to light commercial vehicles and adventure models, performance models are also important. We have a great history with models like the GT and the Mustang. We also want to expand this further.

Can we expect affordable, sporty cars?

I don’t want to dominate that.

How long will there be a V8 in the Mustang?

There’s only one thing I can tell you: it’s been a long time coming, the seventh generation Mustang with a V8 has just begun.

And only electric sports cars?

There is no concrete plan for this, but we are definitely thinking about something like this.

Ford bases the Explorer on the VW MEB platform. Is it expandable?

This platform was an opportunity for us to benefit from the high economies of scale early in the small electric vehicle market and bring the right models to market with the Explorer and other derivatives. We are very pleased with this partnership, on electric models and light commercial vehicles. That is why I cannot rule out the possibility of us continuing our cooperation. However, we are also looking at other options with traditional or new producers, but there is no decision on this at the moment. The next Puma, for example, will be on Ford’s multimodal platform.

And China?

When it comes to electric cars, Chinese manufacturers are very strong players that need to be watched and understood.

Do you want to get involved in battery manufacturing yourself?

We have contractual agreements with almost all major battery manufacturers that supply us. Production itself in Europe is currently not an issue.

What is Ford’s position on cheap electric cars, around 25,000 euros?

We are moving in that direction. With the Explorer we are close to the base, the Puma comes even closer. I don’t want to rule out the possibility that we will have cars under 25,000 euros in our portfolio in the future, but at the moment there are no plans for this. In the future, for Ford in the passenger car business in Europe, it will no longer be a matter of taking all the parts, using the plants to capacity at all costs or gaining market share. We build cars when we believe we can develop a unique concept that fits Ford’s DNA and create a profitable business with it. Just like we do with Explorer and Puma. Increasing volume or market share is not a priority for us.

Do you see the possibility of improving the production of cars?

We really look at our competitors, and when it comes to efficiency, Tesla is the benchmark. And of course we develop our products and processes to be competitive; with all the consequences involved. We are taking a big step with the Explorer and have invested two billion dollars in production in Cologne, which is modern and highly efficient.

Are you building electric cars only in Cologne?

Yes, the factory is completely designed for electric vehicles. Puma production in Craiova, on the other hand, is designed for parallel production of different drives.

Is it possible to easily build beautiful, graphic cars?

When I look at some of our programs in the US, we have some interesting products going on, as we’re currently showing with Explorer.

Is Europe’s goal of offering something electric in every model series by 2026 and going all-electric by 2030 still there?

By the end of this year we will be offering all our models, i.e. cars and light commercial vehicles, with both combustion and electric drives. Customers decide. As long as there is a great demand for combustion engines, we will meet them. We continue to assume that we will only build electric cars at the beginning of the next decade, but there is no hard date to phase out combustion engines. The demand and CO₂ targets drive the business, and if we see that we can also reflect our CO₂ targets in the storage mix and see the demand, we will meet it.

How is the business of light and electric cars going?

We have been in the two ton transport market for over a year and we are the market leader. This year we are launching the Transit Custom and then the smaller Courier, both electric. There is a lot of demand here.

Is the high price not an issue?

We see strong demand in the two-ton truck segment and outsell all of our competitors combined. If e-mobility offers entrepreneurs low operating costs at a reasonable price, it is an attractive and economically viable concept.

Is there a difference in Europe?

A clear north-south divide, for example between Norway and southern Europe, but also some Eastern European countries. E-mobility is gaining ground from north to south. In general, we see strong growth in Europe, last year 30 percent compared to the previous year. The statement “Electromobility is getting slower” is not true. Maybe slow compared to more ambitious goals, but not really slow. It is still a strong growth market, even if we have to adjust our expectations for a while. This is normal market behavior. Germany is the biggest market in Europe, but Germany is not Europe. In general, the growth trend of electric vehicles is the same. And we must not destroy e-mobility in Germany either.

How important is payment infrastructure to you?

Functional charging infrastructure is a big issue for us, infrastructure and legal requirements. The government must continue to take action here; this is more important than direct car financing. We are involved in Ionity ourselves and have just announced a partnership with Allego, where our dealers across Europe will have chargers within easy reach. In this way, we fully improve the payment infrastructure.

War Martin Sander

Martin Sander, Chairman of the Board of Ford-Werke GmbH and General Manager Ford Model e for Ford of Europe.


Martin Sander is currently CEO of Ford-Werke GmbH and General Manager Ford Model e for Ford of Europe.

Martin Sander, born in Hildesheim, studied mechanical engineering and completed his studies at TU Braunschweig as a qualified engineer. He then held various management positions in the automotive industry in North America and Europe. Most recently as Senior Vice President of European Sales at Audi AG. Since 2022 he has been Chairman of the Board of Directors of Ford-Werke GmbH and General Manager Ford Model e of Ford of Europe.

In our photo gallery we present the Ford Puma Gen-E model.