By on June 6, 2019

Ford of Europe

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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9 Comments on “Ford Slices Into European Workforce; UK Engine Plant to Close...”

  • avatar

    Aren’t 1.5 liter engines all about compliance with Chinese tax bands? Does this mean Ford isn’t selling cars in China in the numbers they anticipated when they forced these awful engines on markets where 2.5 liter NA ones better served their customers?

    • 0 avatar

      Ford is struggling in China. However, I’m guessing this just means all the sub 2.0L engines of the future are going to be coming from India (where I think Ford is doing alright), Mexico, and China.

  • avatar

    The writing was on the wall for Bridgend the moment JLR opened their new engine plant in Wolverhampton. Ford should have offered to give JLR Bridgend for free when JLR announced plans to make its own engines, had they done that their loyal workforce would still have jobs. Really with Dagenham in toe it is surplus to requirements.

  • avatar

    “changing customer demand” is bafflegab for “our business is in the toilet ‘cuz people don’t like our product”. Ford had 8.1% of the European market in 2010, which ratcheted steadily downwards to 6.4% in 2018.

    That sort of decline will inevitably lead to “significant underutilisation” of manufacturing facilities. Which, in the case of UK facilities, Brexit will only exacerbate.

  • avatar

    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.

  • avatar

    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.

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