For years there have been warnings that hundreds of thousands of jobs will be lost if the automotive industry fails to switch from combustion engines to electric cars. Now this structural change in Germany has found its first major victim: the Ford factory in Saarlouis.

After an internal competition between two locations, the US group decided to build future electric cars in Valencia, Spain. Promises of subsidies from the state government, wage concessions from workers, a visit by Prime Minister Anke Rehlinger (SPD) to the company’s headquarters in the USA – none of this helped. The jobs of the 4,600 employees and thousands of employees at suppliers are in acute danger. Production in Saarlouis is scheduled to end in 2025.

Ford is almost entirely to blame for this. Unlike its competitors, the automobile manufacturer recognized the signs of the times too late and overslept the transition to electromobility. The course of ex-US President Donald Trump, who wanted to end climate protection in his country, also contributed to this. Now the group first has to use Volkswagen technology in order to be able to build electric cars in Europe at all. CEO Jim Farley is concentrating on investing in the USA in order to save the business there in the future.

The state government, works council and IG Metall an der Saar tried everything to prevent this decision. It is clear to everyone there that the transformation to electromobility can no longer be stopped – because it is the only way for Europe to achieve the global climate goals in the transport sector.

And because Trump has not prevailed with his course in the world. The major automobile manufacturers have set themselves phase-out dates for the combustion engine and are investing billions in the new technology, including in battery cell factories. Suppliers can only survive in the coming years if they quickly join in this change. In Saarland in particular, many thousands of other jobs are threatened in such companies.

In this situation, it does not help if the federal government demonstrates indecisiveness. Instead of agreeing to the exit from combustion engines at EU level from 2035, as agreed in the coalition agreement, Finance Minister Christian Lindner (FDP) now wants the opposite.

Of course, it makes sense to continue researching synthetic fuels. But the belief that this will save factories and jobs like the one in Saarlouis is misguided. No automaker will cancel its electric investments because of the vague hope of a fuel alternative. BMW, Mercedes-Benz and VW are now awarding billions in orders to suppliers for the upcoming electric models. This money will ensure that hundreds of thousands of jobs remain secure and new ones are created – hopefully also in Saarland.