The UK motor industry took a big hit on Thursday when Ford announced that it would be closing both its Southampton plant and its Dagenham stamping operations, meaning the loss of 1400 jobs.
Ford is in the midst of a massive European restructuring process which has already led to the closure of the American firm’s Mondeo plant in Genk, Belgium and around 13 per cent of its workforce across Europe will be let go altogether, equating to 6200 jobs.
The manufacturer revealed last month that its losses from European operations could easily reach a massive sum of £929 million this year and blames a 20 per cent drop in vehicle demand within Western Europe for the move to cut jobs.
Commercial vehicle sales have been one of the main culprits, with medium commercial sales dipping by 19 per cent between 2007 and 2011, whilst light commercial vehicle sales fell by a whopping 34 per cent over the same four year period.
The closure of Ford’s Southampton plant will result in 500 job losses and the commercial vehicle sales have been the main catalyst behind the announcement, thanks mainly to production of the new ‘one-tonne’ Transit Custom being moved to Turkey and as a result had the Southampton plant working at around 50 per cent capacity.
Dagenham’s stamping plant was the supplier of the majority of the panels for the Transit plant and so both sites will close next year thanks to the diluted number of fleet commercial vehicles.
Ford’s new 2.0 litre, four-cylinder diesel engine will now be produced at the Dagenham Diesel Centre when the company’s R&D centre in Essex has finished its development.
Stephen Odell, CEO Ford of Europe said: "We have to act quickly and decisively to address the collapse in consumer demand in Europe today and position Ford for profitable growth tomorrow. We are reaffirming our commitment to the UK with a major investment in powertrain and engineering and one which will reinforce the UK’s central role in Ford’s global powertrain strategy"
The full third quarter losses for Ford will be announced on October 30 and its thought that the firm will not see any profitability from European operations until 2015/16, as it waits for emerging markets and improved volume.
About the author: Sam writes for Fleetpass Tankkaart - Tankkaarten Belgie, who offer fuel cards for Belgium and is accepted in over 2200 petrol stations on the continent.
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