Ford Slices Into European Workforce; UK Engine Plant to Close

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
ford slices into european workforce uk engine plant to close

As Ford Motor Company attempts to turn around its money-losing overseas business, its manufacturing footprint — and workforce — continues to shrink. In the UK, the automaker plans to end operations at its Bridgend, Wales engine plant by September 2020, citing “significant underutilisation” of the facility.

The Bridgend plant builds Ford’s 1.5-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder and unfamiliar-to-Americans 1.5-liter three-pot, but demand is drying up.

“After detailed consideration, Ford today confirmed the start of a consultation with its unions concerning the potential closure of the Ford Bridgend Engine Plant in South Wales,” Ford of Europe said in a Thursday morning statement. “The proposed action is a necessary step to support Ford’s global business redesign and is part of the company’s strategy to create a more efficient and focused business in Europe.”

While Ford mentions the “potential” closure of the plant, the company’s rationale makes it seem unavoidable.

Earlier this year, reports arose that Ford plans to cull 7,000 positions in Europe and ditch several car models in an attempt to return the region to profitability. Closing Bridgend, a plant that produced 20 percent of the UK’s automotive engines in 2018, would leave the country with a lone engine plant (Dagenham) and technical center (Dunton).

“We are committed to the U.K.; however, changing customer demand and cost disadvantages, plus an absence of additional engine models for Bridgend going forward make the plant economically unsustainable in the years ahead,” said Ford of Europe President Stuart Rowley in a statement.

Ford cites numerous reasons for the plant’s impending closure. Among them, the looming end of engine production for Jaguar Land Rover, the discontinuation of the previous-generation 1.5-liter four-cylinder, and falling demand for the remaining two engines. As well, building the engines in Wales is costlier than at other sites.

The plant’s union vows to see the lights stay on.

“We will resist this closure with all our might, and call upon the governments at the Welsh Assembly and Westminster to join us to save this plant,” said Len McCluskey, head of the Unite union, per Reuters.

[Image: Ford of Europe]

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  • Stingray65 Stingray65 on Jun 06, 2019

    It is amazing how far Ford has fallen in Europe, even though they make some nice vehicles for the European markets, but unfortunately only for segments that are shrinking (i.e. MPVs and cars). Ford's decline also shows how much consumers care about the environment, because evil diesel VW continues to take share from Ford and everyone else in Europe.

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    • Ce he sin Ce he sin on Jun 07, 2019

      @Inside Looking Out Ford abandoned the European truck market in the 1990s when they sold out to Iveco. They still sell (with reasonable success) the various manifestations of the Transit and also the Ranger pickup, albeit in relatively low numbers.

  • Afar Afar on Jun 06, 2019

    During the last five years Spanish car sales went from 700k to 1.2 million. During that period, Ford sold 30 cars less every month. The mk8 fíesta is overpriced, the mk4 focus has worse interior materials than the previous. Mpvs are dead and they sell 5 different models. Only German sedans sell decently so the only mk5 mondeos (fusion) you see are hybrid, black and says Uber. The ecosport is garbage and looks outdated, the kuga (escape) is the only one you see sometimes and it will probably be a cop car -Spanish agencies love the fleet-ish awd diesel version-. A stick shift 180hp diesel Edge cost about 40k€. No one will buy it becouse you get a cpo bmw x3 for the the money. They are basically dead and it's pretty sad because I have a Ford factory in my region.

  • Carlson Fan "But it does give General Motors an opportunity to dangle a diesel in front of the faces of consumers and presumably one that yields better gas mileage than the 6.2-liter V8 they’d otherwise be buying."I'll take the 6.2 thank you. The diesel offers some advantages over gas if you use the truck for towing, lower total cost of ownership isn't one of them. I'll add in the gas engine offers better long term reliability & cold weather performance if you live where it snows like me.
  • Carrera The diesels built during the last 10-15 years, if kept stock, don't really stink at all.
  • MaintenanceCosts I keep finding myself drawn to the Fox PLCs, both the Thunderbird and the Mark VII. They really got the design right by 1980s standards. The cars were reasonably sized but didn't look dinky like the 1986 Eldorado, they were comfortable and drove pretty well, and they were available with a 302 (that even got non-asthmatic in the late years).When I bought my first car - a 1987 Taurus - I also thought about Aerobirds, but I decided (probably correctly, given the number of carpools I was part of) that I wanted four doors.
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