Ford is set to start using 5G technology to speed up production of its electric cars.

The firm has received government backing to set up a private 5G network with Vodafone Business at a new manufacturing facility in the UK.

The factory, which is known as ‘E:PRiME’ – Electrified Powertrain in Manufacturing Engineering – will be based at the firm’s Dunton Campus in Essex and will use 5G tech to overcome issues around wireless connectivity. Ford says by using it they will be able to reduce delays, offer a wider bandwidth and improved security and reliability, as well as importantly save time.

Manufacturing electric vehicle batteries is said to require around 1,000 welds per minute, and by integrating 5G into the machines, Ford says it’ll be able to see real-time data and offer remote support to the systems.

Chris White, Ford’s 5GEM project lead, said: “Connecting today’s shop floor requires significant time and investment. Present technology can be the limiting factor in reconfiguring and deploying next-gen manufacturing systems. 5G presents the opportunity to transform the speed of launch and flexibility of present manufacturing facilities, moving us towards tomorrow’s plants connected to remote expert support and artificial intelligence.”

The government has previously announced £65m in funding to look at the potential of 5G, with Ford and its consortium members part of this.

Ford’s first bespoke electric car – the Mustang Mach-E – is available to order now, with first deliveries expected at the start of 2021. The firm is also increasing its number of hybrid models, with a new plug-in hybrid version of the Kuga recently arriving in showrooms, and with the S-Max and Galaxy MPVs set to be electrified in the near future.