Ford will cut 1,300 jobs in the UK, which is about 20% of its workforce. This is another blow to the declining British car industry.
It blamed the 3800 cuts in Europe on its rapid transition to becoming an all-electric, smaller motoring brand starting in 2025.
Cost-cutting has been much more extensive than expected, with the UK being disproportionately hard-hit. Plans for 2,300 job cuts in Ford’s larger facilities and Germany account for 15% of the workforce.
About 1,000 UK jobs are affected by the cuts, with the majority being in high-paying design engineering, research, and development jobs. They will be at Dunton, an award-winning facility in Essex that is one of three Ford global technical centres.
The remaining 300 jobs to be eliminated are white-collar administrative positions, mainly at Dunton. Some roles were also transferred following redundancies after the 2018 closing of Ford’s British headquarters in Brentwood, Essex.
Ford’s UK workforce will now be less than one-third of what it was a decade ago, according to the latest layoffs.
Ford lost its title as Britain’s most-sold car brand to Volkswagen. This crown had been held by Ford for over five decades. It already shut down its Transit van assembly plant at Southampton and switched production to Turkey. The engine factory is in Bridgend in south Wales. 20 years ago, the company stopped manufacturing cars in Britain, mainly in Dagenham, east London. The UK workforce was numbering in the tens or thousands during its peak.
The UK’s car industry has been in turmoil for the past few months. Factory gate numbers show that production is at a low of 66 years. These developments include:
* BMW switches all future production of electric Mini from Cowley, Oxford to China.
Jaguar closes its Castle Bromwich assembly line.
* The closing of the Honda plant in Swindon.
* The end of production of the Vauxhall Astra at Ellesmere Port.
* Nissan Sunderland operates at less than half capacity, and executives say the plant must improve its productivity.
* Britishvolt’s proposed electric car battery gigafactory, northeast, is now under administration.
* Arrival, a start-up that was just weeks away from going into full production of buses and vans in Oxfordshire. It quit for the US.
Chairman of Ford of Britain Tim Slatter stated that the reductions were due to Ford’s decision not to focus on electric vehicles, which have a “more competitive” range of models and a “more efficient cost structure”.
Dunton, together with Jaguar Land Rover’s facilities at Coventry, Warwickshire, is the UK’s largest and most important employment hub for automotive research, development, and manufacturing. It is the birthplace of the supercharged RS Turbo and Ecoboost, which are the most efficient petrol engines in the world.
Ford GT was built using the Ecoboost engine Dunton invented.
Dunton’s focus has been on the next-generation commercial vehicles, including Transit vans and minibuses. Slatter stated that it would be a smaller facility because no work is being done to develop internal combustion engines for commercial vehicles.
He said, “The industry is going through massive transformation.” “We live in an economic environment of high-interest rates and high inflation in Europe.
Martin Sander, the head of Ford electric Europe, stated that there is significantly less work involved in moving out of combustion engines. We are moving to a world that requires less engineering. We must make adjustments.
Des Quinn, Unite’s national officer for the automobile industries, stated that the announcement had caused yet another setback to the struggling British automotive industry.
He stated that “it is evident that the government does not have any industrial plan to electrify the UK’s car industry and support the critical jobs it supports.”
“The UK is being perilously behind competitor nations, which have had the foresight and implemented a strategy to green vehicle production.
John Scarola, a Basildon councillor and 40-year Ford veteran, stated that the job cuts would be devastating for the community.
He said, “If there’s no job, there’s no wage coming in.” “The problem with all this is that we’re going all-electric, it’s going create new jobs in the field, but clearly the old jobs are going.”
It was a time when Ford of Britain’s chairman was one of Britain’s top industry leaders, and had the ears of the prime minister. He sat at table ministerial interactions with manufacturing (Robert Lea writes).
Those days are long gone. Ford Europe, which was never one of the most lucrative outposts in America’s parent empire, has moved from its British heritage eastwards. Its industrial hubs now are not only in Cologne, Germany or Spain, but also in Romania, Turkey, and Romania. Ford stopped manufacturing vehicles in this country 20 years ago with the closing of the Dagenham assembly line. It sold its interests in Jaguar and Range Rover 15 year ago. Ten years ago, it shut down its Transit van-making assembly line at Southampton. Five years ago, it decided to stop making engines for Bridgend.
The only thing left was a Halewood facility in Merseyside that was reconditioned from its original gearbox manufacturing role to produce power units for electric cars. There was also a world-leading engineering research centre at Dunton near Basildon. This was one of three technical hubs in the American group.
Dunton, long a center of excellence in automotive engineering labor market employment, has been cut. It was a hub for Ford’s global commercial vehicle development. Ford’s core product is the Transit van, which has been a huge success.
However, the argument goes that once product development shifts from creating efficient diesel engines and thinking about a zero-emission future, to being only about the former, the number of bodies required in laboratories and sat at computer assisted design monitors is much less.
Dunton is experiencing significant job losses, with about a third the number of people working there. Many of these employees are in high-value positions. Ford Europe in the second decade will not only be a company that promises to sell electric cars, but will also produce a smaller number of vehicles. It has seen its market share in the UK, which is just over 7 percent, drop by half in the last decade.
The new all-electric Ford will be much smaller than the American firm that used to dominate the European continent. It is also having to reduce costs. Dearborn is the key to Ford’s industrial presence in Britain. Ford still has operations in Dagenham that produce diesel engines for minibuses and vans made in Turkey. This is a clearly a short-term project, given the road to net zero.
Ford of Britain chairman Tim Slatter (48), has previously talked up the potential for Dagenham to be reinvented into a producer hydrogen fuel cells for Transit vans. When asked if that was still a plan, Slatter said, “All options remain open.”