Ford to cut ‘thousands’ of European jobs, eyes up alliance with VW

US giant’s efficiency measures include cutting MPVs, increasing focus on SUVs and EVs; part of company’s £11bn global efficiency plan

Ford has announced a significant series of job cuts in Europe in a bid to improve operating efficiencies. The US car giant hasn’t officially specified how many workers will be laid off or take voluntary redundancy, but reports indicates “thousands” of workers will lose their jobs.

Ford lost £192m in Europe in the third financial quarter, and plans to bring about “cost improvements” by a “reduction of surplus labor [sic].” The company’s European president, Steven Armstrong, told the Financial Times it was “safe to say [job losses] will be thousands”.

• JLR annouce 4,500 job losses

Armstrong told reporters that while the redundancies are “not a consequence of the Brexit situation”, he warned: “If Brexit goes in the wrong direction and we have a hard Brexit, we would need to look again about what we could do to mitigate the impact of that”. 

As well as redundancies, Ford says it will be “exiting less profitable vehicle lines”, cutting unpopular models, or those that yield smaller returns. C-MAX and Grand C-MAX production will cease at Ford’s Saarlouis plant in Germany “as the compact MPV segment shrinks in Europe.” SUV production is likely to increase, however, with Ford selling a “record” 250,000-plus such vehicles in Europe last year.

Ford’s Bordeaux gearbox factory will close in August 2019, and the company will consolidate its UK headquarters and Ford Credit Europe’s headquarters at the Dunton Technical Centre in Essex.

As well as redundancies, Ford said it intends to “leverage relationships” such as “the potential alliance with Volkswagen”, which is likely to further increase the company’s presence in the commercial vehicle market.

The company will also significantly increase the number of electrified models in its range, with every car “from the all-new Ford Focus onward” including an “electrified option” – be it a full EV or hybrid powertrain, or a ‘mild’ hybrid capable of recouping energy from regenerative braking, and aiding acceleration via a beefed-up alternator. 

The new Transit van – due later in 2019 – will also be available with an electrified option, while Ford has confirmed an “all-new Mustang-inspired performance utility” will be unveiled in 2020.

Ford employs 13,000 people in the UK, and around 54,000 in Europe. The company is targeting a six per cent profit margin in Europe, which would be higher than has  previously been achieved in the region. The news comes in the same week JLR confirmed 4,500 job losses.

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