By on July 20, 2012

Ford last closed a plant in Europe a decade ago, when its Dagenham assembly plant was shuttered, but the Blue Oval may be forced to do it again.

Faced with excess capacity and mounting losses on the continent, Ford needs to trim some fat. According to a report by Bloomberg

The Dearborn, Michigan-based automaker’s assembly plants in Southampton, England, and Genk, Belgium, may be vulnerable.

The Southampton factory is apparently running at less than one-third capacity, and built fewer than 30,000 Transit vans last year. The Genk plant builds the Mondeo – an important car for Ford, but one that is cursed with a small market and a declining customer base. Europe’s already volatile economy is hardly the place for a pseudo-upscale sedan like the Mondeo, as well as the S-Max crossover and the Galaxy minivan (which did have a slight uptick in sales this year).

Ford isn’t the first automaker trying to shed capacity, with Opel and PSA undertaking plans to shut down underperforming factories. And they probably won’t be the last either.

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8 Comments on “Ford Plant Could Be Next On Europe’s Chopping Block...”

  • avatar

    The new Transit should help bolster sails, though they’re building the Transit Connect in Turkey, as well as some Transit versions – I can see Transit production moving there. The Mondeo’s still got a larger market than this article suggests; additionally being closely related to the Fusion means it should have a decent margin. Keeping mondeo production in Europe makes sense to me, as the market demand there is high enough to warrant avoiding import tariffs.

  • avatar

    I was never quite sure why RHD Transit was not moved to the Turkey JV plant, unless for the reasons of capacity or as insurance against some kind of disruption there.

    Depending on the commonality between the US and euro Transit designs, and US-EU trade agreements, once US production is established this could act as the potential backup plant (don’t forget that Transit is produced in other locations out side Europe as well; I don’t know, however, if they are the same generation as US/EU production. )

    Re M/S/G production in Genk (notably home of Transit LHD production before it moved to Turkey to make room for EUCD in the early 2000’s) I would be surprised if any other Ford plants have enough capacity to absorb this volume (and would have to make some pretty significant stamping & body shop investments due to the lack of common structural and class-A panels.

    • 0 avatar

      The global Transit will be produced at KCAP (Kansas City). Stamping facility is currently being constructed a ways from their final building (KCAP has a LOT of land) – which is quite the sight to see a plant being constructed in North America. The Otosan Kocaeli Plant combined with KCAP is a lot of global capacity. Your analysis would be spot on had it not been for the new lease on life that KCAP just received. It’s old Escape paint shop is being overhauled and it’s body shop will be brand new.

  • avatar

    Wall streeters are worried about the situation in Europe. It has the smell of a depression. A depression in Europe might spread around the globe. Thank the US and European politicans. All of them. All political parties.

    • 0 avatar

      Indeed, the S is HTF around the world as the credit bubble implodes. In the US, the wealth of the average family is down 39% in just a few years, and real income (purchasing power) continues to decline. Food stamp use and “disability” enrollments are skyrocketing. And we’re just getting started.

      IMO that’s why we’re seeing so many small cars introduced — the manufacturers know people won’t have much money in the future. Of course it won’t be pitched that way. We’ll be told buying small is “smart”.

  • avatar

    I met/saw a guy at the gas station last week with a transit connect/non-commercial version, nice interior, four seats, windows all the way around, I thought that it wasn’t possible to score one of those (wasn’t a company car, was his personal daily driver)?

    • 0 avatar

      You definitely can, no special qualifications. Starts from about $24K MSRP.

      For these ones, Ford doesn’t have to take out the windows and rear seats so it’s probably more profitable than the cargo version.

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