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Ford to end vehicle production in Britain
Ford is planning to close its Transit production plant in Southampton and a body stamping plant in Dagenham which will impact 1,400 jobs.
The move brings to an end 101 years of Ford vehicle assembly in Britain, and comes on top of yesterday’s closure of its Belgian car production plant with the potential loss of 4,300 jobs.
Ford is blaming the declining European new car and van market, which has fallen 20% in five years. This has left the world’s fifth-largest vehicle manufacturer with serious overcapacity – and predicted European losses of a staggering $1.5bn.
Some sources suggest Ford has the capacity to make 50% more cars than it is actually currently selling, way below breakeven point. This is why the brand is closing facilities now: analysts suggest it has taken 18% of production capacity out of Europe.
Unions say the job losses could total 2,000 once the impact on suppliers is taken into account.
The Southampton Transit plant will close next summer – ironically, 60 years after Ford acquired it back in 1953. It has been making the Ford van since 1972: Ford is the leading van maker in Britain, having dominated the sector since the Transit was launched. The six millionth Ford Transit was made at Southampton in 2009.
The Transit will, from 2013, be produced in Turkey.
“The challenges facing the European car industry have become more structural than cyclical in nature and require decisive action,” said Stephen Odell, chairman and CEO, Ford of Europe.
“The actions we are proposing come after extensive review and consideration, and we fully recognise and accept Ford’s social responsibilities in this necessary transformation of our business.”
Ford’s proposed action of yesterday and today will affect 6,200 positions from 13% of its European workforce. ‘Employee reductions’ in the UK will be achieved through ‘voluntary means, enhanced employee separation programs and redeployment to other Ford locations,’ added the firm.
“This is difficult and disappointing news for all the people and families affected by today’s announcement, but it is part of wider restructuring to ensure a stronger and more competitive European automotive industry,” said the SMMT.
“The decline in European vehicle markets and the uncertain future growth prospects has resulted in a number of vehicle manufacturers restructuring their operations.
“These are difficult times for the European automotive industry as manufacturers adapt to new market conditions and changing patterns of global demand.”
Ford has, added the SMMT, “renewed its commitment to the company’s core R&D, design and engine manufacturing operations in the UK and these will continue to provide long-term and high-value employment to many thousands of people.”
This follows Ford’s announcement that it will further invest in its engine production plant at Dagenham to produce the next-generation diesel motor.
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