Ford announces closure of Bridgend engine plant in Wales
6 June 2019
Ford has announced the closure of its engine plant in Bridgend, Wales, in 2020, with a potential loss of 1,700 jobs and many more in the supply chain.
Ford of Europe president Stuart Rowley said in a statement: ‘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.’
‘We are committed to the UK. 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.’
Ford produces about 1.3 million engines annually at Bridgend and its other UK engine plant in Dagenham. Automotive News Europe reports that ‘the Bridgend plant in Wales built around 20 percent of Britain's 2.7 million automotive engines last year,’ suggesting the Bridgend facility alone produced over half a million engines in 2018.
However, a supply contract with Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) ends in 2020 and this will only leave the plant with production of Ford’s ‘Dragon’ petrol engines. These engines are shipped for fitment to vehicles in plants in Germany but also to countries outside the European Union such as Turkey and the United States.
In the event of a no-deal Brexit, Ford engines produced in the UK could be subject to customs delays and additional costs when shipping both inside and outside the European Union.
Brexit warnings and global cuts
Ford has previously warned that it will have to take a ‘long, hard look’ at its British operations should the country leave the European Union without a deal.
Ford has said it faces losses of $1 billion (€876 million) if the UK crashes out of Europe with no customs and trade deal in place and, in this event, has even suggested it may pull out of the UK entirely.
Alongside ongoing concerns over Brexit, Ford aims to cut approximately 10% of its global salaried workforce as it tries to cut costs and increase profits. Combining voluntary buyouts, involuntary separations and open positions Ford chose not to fill, around 7,000 jobs will be eliminated by the end of August.
The combination of the end of JLR supply, the looming spectre of a no-deal Brexit and Ford’s turnaround efforts in Europe appears to have sealed the fate of Bridgend.