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Ford’s new EV era to be driven by former Audi UK MD Martin Sander

Martin Sander Ford of Europe's new general manager, Passenger Vehicles

Ford of Europe has appointed former Audi UK managing director Martin Sander as its new general manager, Passenger Vehicles, to propel it into a new era of electric vehicle (EV) sales.

The car maker said that it would be taking a “significant step to accelerate the transformation of its European business” and creating an “entirely fresh product line of electric vehicles and mobility services” in 2022 with Sander’s new post combining two posts to drive the shift.

Sander will also become chair of the management board of Ford-Werke GmbH when he takes up his post on June 1 and sets about fulfilling the brand’s goal to “redefine what it means to own and drive Ford”.

The Volkswagen Group veteran has spent 25 years career at the German OEM, holding various senior leadership positions in North America, the UK and Europe, and most recently was senior vice president of sales for Europe at Audi.

Sander will take over responsibilities previously held by Roelant de Waard and Gunnar Herrmann, both of whom elected to retire at the end of last year, and will report to Ford of Europe president Stuart Rowley.

“Martin is a highly experienced leader with a wealth of global experience,” said Rowley. “His drive, leadership and new thinking will speed the transformation of our passenger vehicle business in Europe to provide customers with new connected experiences.”

Taking to LinkedIn to announce his new role earlier today, Sander said that he was looking forward to being taken out of his comfort zone".

"The more I learned about the new opportunity, the more the excitement of doing something new took over and I realised, that there is so much to gain outside of my comfort zone I simply don’t want to miss out on," he revealed.

"Words can’t express how grateful I am to all colleagues and friends who supported me along the way. I wish you and Audi the greatest success in the future."

Sander will be based in Cologne in his new role.

The city is home to Ford’s Cologne Electrification Centre, where the first all-electric passenger vehicle will roll off the production lines from next year.

Ford said that his team will be responsible for accelerating Ford’s delivery of connected EVs, leading all initiatives that collectively create a superior digital customer experience for Ford passenger vehicles in Europe.

Last week’s Society of Motor Manufacturer and Traders (SMMT) 2021 new car registrations data showed that Ford had slipped to fourth place in the best-seller rankings, behind Volkswagen, Audi and BMW.

Its former UK best-seller, the Fiesta hatchback, did not feature in the top 10 best-selling cars for last year and was outsold by the brand’s Puma crossover, marking a huge shift for the brand.

A bigger shift lies ahead, however.

Almost a year ago Ford announced that it will only sell electric cars in Europe by 2030, with all Ford cars sold in the continent by 2026 expected to be zero-emissions capable.

The brand’s entire commercial vehicle range will also be zero-emissions capable, electric or plug-in hybrid, by 2024, with two-thirds of Ford’s commercial vehicle sales expected to be all-electric or plug-in hybrid by 2030.

The Mustang Mach E – the AM Awards’ EV of the Year 2021 - is the only fully electric car currently in Ford's model line-up.

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