Even though it’s been on sale for almost three months, the all-electric Europe-only Ford Explorer wasn’t being mass-produced. Until now, as the blue oval automaker kicked things into high gear at its revamped factory in Cologne, Germany.

Revealed last year, the battery-powered Explorer shares zero things with the U.S. model with the same name. It’s based on the same MEB platform that underpins the Volkswagen ID.4 and costs less than the Mustang Mach-E, making it Ford’s entry-level EV in Europe. 

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Ford starts manufacturing at its EV center in Cologne, Germany

The Europe-bound Ford Explorer electric is the first vehicle to roll off the assembly line of the American company's overhauled manufacturing facility in Cologne, Germany. After a $2 billion investment, the factory that used to make the Fiesta city car is now a dedicated EV hub that can build over 250,000 cars per year.

That said, it’s not exactly cheap. After being postponed for about six months, the most affordable Ford Explorer Electric starts at roughly €47,000 in Europe, which is approximately $51,100 at today’s exchange rate. By comparison, the Mustang Mach-E, which is 8.5 inches longer than the battery-powered Explorer, is about €5,000 more. Before going into production, the MEB-based crossover was driven across the world, a first for an EV.

The entry-level version of the Explorer EV comes with a single rear-mounted electric motor that makes 210 kilowatts (281 horsepower) and a 77-kilowatt-hour (usable) extended-range battery that enables a WLTP-rated travel distance of 374 miles (601 km). A smaller battery is also in the pipeline, but Ford didn’t say how big it would be.

There’s also a dual-motor, all-wheel drive version that puts down 250 kW (335 hp) and has a WLTP range of 351 miles (566 km). As for charging, both powertrain variants can draw up to 11 kW from an AC source. When it comes to DC fast charging, however, the RWD trim can accept up to 135 kW, while the AWD Explorer EV can draw up to 185 kW from a compatible charger.

The electric Explorer is the first car assembled at Ford’s overhauled plant in Cologne, Germany. During its almost 100-year timeline, the factory has made the Model A, Taunus, Capri, Granada and Fiesta and has been one of the American company’s most efficient plants worldwide.

Gallery: Ford Explorer EV production in Cologne, Germany

After investing $2 billion, Ford turned the Cologne facility into a dedicated Electric Vehicle Center that, once fully operational, can produce more than 250,000 vehicles per year. After the Explorer Electric, a sports crossover based on the same Volkswagen MEB platform, will go into production in Germany.

Ford says its Cologne Electric Vehicle Center is supported by self-learning machines and over 600 new robots that do the welding, cutting, dusting, painting and fusing tasks. “By monitoring and controlling every step of the manufacturing process, Ford will achieve unprecedented levels of quality for our customers,” said Rene Wolf, managing director of Manufacturing at Ford-Werke GmbH.

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