Ford plans to close its Bridgend, Wales, plant in the U.K. by the fall of 2020, saying the move is part of its strategy to “create a more efficient and focused business in Europe.”
The Bridgend Engine Plant opened in 1977 and has about 1,700 employees, including nearly 400 who signed voluntary separation agreements earlier this year and will leave by December. Ford says it is consulting with unions and will help employees find new jobs with the company or elsewhere.
“Creating a strong and sustainable Ford business in Europe requires us to make some difficult decisions, including the need to scale our global engine manufacturing footprint to best serve our future vehicle portfolio,” Stuart Rowley, president-Ford of Europe, says in a news release.
“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.”
Factors contributing to the closure of Bridgend include significant underutilization of the plant, driven by the impending end of V-6 and V-8 engine production for Jaguar Land Rover; discontinuation of the previous-generation Ford GTDi 3-cyl. 1.5L engine; and reduced global demand for the new-generation Ford 1.5L EcoBoost engine, Ford says.
“At expected volumes, the plant also faces a cost disadvantage compared with other Ford facilities building the same engine,” the news release says. “Significant efforts to identify new opportunities have not been successful.”
Production of the new-generation 1.5L EcoBoost at Bridgend is to cease in February 2020, with production of engines supplied to JLR ending in September 2020, when the plant is to close, Ford says.
Elsewhere in the U.K., Ford will continue to produce diesel engines at the Dagenham Engine Plant and transmissions at the Halewood Getrag Ford Transmissions joint venture. It also will maintain R&D and technical-support operations in the region.
Other moves Ford is making as part of its European reorganization include a voluntary employee separation program expected to cut more than 5,000 jobs in Germany, while more than 500 salaried employees have volunteered for similar packages in the U.K.
The automaker also is ending C-Max and Grand C-Max production in Saarlouis, Germany, this year; reducing shifts in Saarlouis and Valencia, Spain; restructuring its Ford Sollers joint venture in Russia to focus on commercial vehicles and halt all passenger-vehicle production this month with the closure of two vehicle-assembly plants and one engine plant; and ending production at a transmission plant in Bordeaux, France, in August.