COLOGNE, Germany—Ford Motor Co. has ramped up production of a battery-powered Explorer SUV at its first dedicated electric vehicle facility in Europe. A $2 billion investment has transformed the historic assembly plant into a factory of the future.

The Ford Cologne Electric Vehicle Center features state-of-the-art artificial intelligence technology and more than 600 new robots, in addition to digital twins that support operators.

A new control center monitors the entire assembly process in real time, ensuring the quantity of every part at each workstation. The plant’s digital twin is displayed via a giant touchscreen containing all workstations with information on production parameters related to tooling, material delivery and safety. With small touchscreens, operators provide further information on the status of their workstation.

“By monitoring and controlling every step of the manufacturing process, [we] will achieve unprecedented levels of quality for our customers,” claims Rene Wolf, managing director of manufacturing at Ford-Werke GmbH.

According to Wolf, the Cologne Electric Vehicle Center is one of Ford’s most efficient vehicle assembly plants globally, supported by significant reductions in emissions, water usage and energy consumption. Greenhouse gas emissions data will be monitored and recorded for independent certification based on the latest international standards.

In addition to initiatives that reduce emissions, water usage and energy consumption, all electricity and natural gas required to operate the plant is 100 percent certified renewable electricity and biomethane.

“To see the Cologne factory founded by Henry Ford in 1930 being transformed into a state-of-the-art electric vehicle production facility is nothing short of amazing,” says Kieran Cahill, vice president of manufacturing at Ford Europe and International Markets Group. “The start of mass production of electric vehicles…marks the beginning of a new era for Ford in Europe.”