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Ford wants to close its factory in Wales

Bridgend engine-plant, which employs 1,700 people, could shut in 2020

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More bad news for Britain’s car industry, as Ford announces it’s planning to close the Bridgend Engine Plant in South Wales in 2020. The company has started consulting unions on the proposed closure of the factory, which was opened in 1977 and today employs some 1,700 workers.  

Ford is blaming “significant underutilisation” of the plant’s 750,000 engines-per-year capacity for the possible shutdown. At the moment it builds the 1.5-litre petrol engine found in such cars as the Fiesta ST, as well as V8s for Jaguar Land Rover. Under Ford’s plans, production of the former will stop at Bridgend in February 2020.

The factory will close when production of the latter is moved to JLR’s Wolverhampton plant that September, with its 1,700 employees benefitting from a “enhanced separation programme” that will help them “to find new employers or pursue new opportunities, such as creating their own businesses or training for new careers”.

Stuart Rowley, President of Ford of Europe, said “creating a strong and sustainable Ford business in Europe requires us to make some difficult decisions”. He said the company was committed to the UK, but “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”.

Ford will continue to operate factories in the UK – diesel engines will continue to be built in Dagenham, while production of transmissions will continue at its factory on Merseyside.

Cost-cutting measures being undertaken elsewhere in Europe include the closure of two factories in Russia, shift reductions at factories in Saarlouis and Valencia, and the cessation of gearbox production in Bordeaux.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders called Ford’s announcement a “crushing blow for UK automotive manufacturing”. Chief Executive Mike Hawes said “Ford’s challenges are not unique: economic uncertainty at home and abroad, technological change and global trade issues are stressing markets and forcing companies to review operations and make difficult decisions”.

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