By on December 13, 2018

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As part of Ford’s massive restructuring plan, which is said to focus primarily on its European assets, the automaker will end assembly at its Blanquefort transmission plant in France next year. Its 850 employees will now have to find gainful employment elsewhere by August.

However, there was a brief glimmer of hope after transmission supplier Punch Powerglide (encouraged by the French government) launched a bid to purchase the facility and rescue it from being shuttered.

“Despite thorough and rigorous talks over the past nine months, and the best efforts of both sides, the plan put forward by the potential buyer presents significant risks,” Ford said in a statement. “We do not believe that the prospective buyer’s plans offer the level of security or protection, or limit the risk of possible future job losses, that we would like for the employees.” 

According to Reuters, France’s Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire previously described Punch Powerglide as a “credible, solid buyer,” and has been vocally opposed to Ford’s final decision to close the facility. Like Italy, France has a disproportionately high unemployment rate compared to the rest of Europe. Though not nearly as bad as Greece or Spain, the French government doesn’t want to see itself joining their ranks.

The nation is also enduring a period of civil unrest as “yellow vest protests” have quickly grown to a point where they’re beginning to spill beyond its borders. While initially opposed to France’s proposed fuel tax hike and corporate exemptions, the movement now seems to have co-opted the general outrage of Europe’s working class. Protests have gotten ugly, too, frequently involving extremely violent urban skirmishes with the police as they rally against proposed economic reforms, mass-immigration mandates, unemployment, and French President Emmanuel Macron.

“I am revolted, I am sickened by this decision whose only justification is for Ford to get its shares to rise on the stock market,” Le Maire told the French Senate. “I want to attack the cowardice of Ford. For the last three days I have been looking to talk to them, and they didn’t even have the courage to talk to the minister of finance and economy over the phone,” he added.

[Image: Ford Motor Co.]

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13 Comments on “It Begins: Ford Restructuring Ends Production at Blanquefort Plant in France...”

  • avatar

    Queue up eight hundred fifty more yellow vests.

  • avatar

    There’s a company called Punch Powerglide? What does Chevrolet think of that??

    • 0 avatar

      Must have been Ok , as it was a former GM plant in Strasbourg France. The Punch side is a sort of conglomerate. The outside France transmission business was called Punch Powertrain

  • avatar

    How long before the workers hold management hostage like they did when Michelin wanted to close a plant?

  • avatar

    There is no “gainful employment” in France…Unless you are a tax-taker maggot.

    American companies are moving out of Europe because there is so much anti-American sentiment and the Europeans are now just infantile socialist tax slaves.

    • 0 avatar

      The increasing possibility of islamicide while shopping has got to be taking some of the shine off the frog, too.

    • 0 avatar

      Europes population and GDP is larger than US. You should get out more

    • 0 avatar

      @ JoDa

      It’s ludicrous statements like yours that p*ss people off about SOME know-it-all vituperative Americans. Blessed with no signs of education or knowledge, unhindered by any sign of intelligence, but equipped with overt self-confidence based on eff all, you proclaim nonsense. Typical of the breed.

      About as bright as unctuous Ford: “We do not believe that the prospective buyer’s plans offer the level of security or protection, or limit the risk of possible future job losses, that we would like for the employees.” 

      Right. So instead of the “possibility” of employment, Ford is just going to dump the employees on the street with no job at all instead. That’ll make ’em better off, no doubt. How to win friends and influence people.

      • 0 avatar

        Your point is understood, but this article started with, “It Begins……..”

        And for anyone who is following this industry, it is well understood that 2019, 2020 and so on will bring some major changes to the global auto industry.

        Sergio Marchionne stated some time ago that he saw a necessity for realignment, restructuring and repositioning in the global auto industry and that closing redundant plants/factories was just the start of it.

        Well, it’s here. And it is only the beginning. Or were the GM plant-closings the beginning?

  • avatar

    The factory that is closing appears to be the Ford Aquitaine Industries plant that makes 6F35 automatic transmissions, not the Getrag/Ford JV in the same city that makes manual transmissions.

    Ford says the closure is due to falling sales of automatics. The dual clutch Power Shift is made in Slovakia. The largest user of the 6F35 appears to be the Ford Mondeo. Ford announced several months ago that they were no longer going to develop the Mondeo/Fusion. They only sold 56,000 Mondeos in Europe last year, and sales are even lower this year. My takeaway is this plant closure is the Mondeo’s death warrant. There will be no plant closure for the abandonment of the Mondeo as other models are also built in that plant, and they all use the Power Shift.

  • avatar

    Ford is concerned about the security of workers should the plant be sold, so instead they are closing the plant down entirely and laying everyone off. How the *()&^)&_)(* does that add up?

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