Years of warnings about job losses from the transition to all-electric cars from internal-combustion powertrains are starting to become reality, as Ford this week announced it would cut nearly half of its European engineering staff of 6,200.
Martin Sander, Ford's EV boss in Europe, said the reason was, simply, that electric cars are much simpler. "These changes are driven by the transition to fully electric powertrains and drastically reduced complexity in our vehicles and operations," Sander said.
Going forward, Ford will rely on Volkswagen Group’s MEB platform for two electric cars built in Cologne that will launched this year and next year, sharing underpinnings with the VW ID4 and VW ID5. Its next-generation EVs will use a new U.S.-developed software-defined architecture.
"We clearly need a leaner and more competitive cost structure in Europe that is aligned to our future product portfolio of electric vehicles," Sander said on a conference call Tuesday morning.
Ford's remaining 3,400 Europe-based engineers, in the UK and Germany, will still be needed to develop "top hats" and other features to make the cars stand out in Europe’s ultra-competitive market, as well as maintain Ford’s lucrative commercial van business. But for 2,800 of them, there was not enough projects to keep them employed, Sanders said.
"There is significantly less work to be done on drivetrains, because we are moving out of combustion engines," he said. Ford is also trimming 1,000 administration positions.
Ford is one of the first companies to explicitly tie job cut announcements to electric cars’ reduced complexity, but it will certainly not be the last.