Ford backs UK plant with £230m investment to support electric car future

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Ford has revealed plans to transform its gearbox plant on Merseyside to build electric power units from 2024, safeguarding 500 jobs.

Sky News revealed last month that the Halewood factory was in competition with a site in Germany to secure the work.

Ford said the government was supporting its investment through the Automotive Transformation Fund.

The company said Halewood would be its first in-house electric vehicle component assembly site in Europe.

The site is to build electric power units - the replacements for the engine and transmission in a conventional petrol or diesel engine vehicle - for future all-electric passenger and commercial vehicles sold in Europe, Ford said.

Stuart Rowley, Ford of Europe president, said of the decision: "It strengthens further our ability to deliver 100 percent of Ford passenger vehicles in Europe being all-electric and two-thirds of our commercial vehicle sales being all-electric or plug-in hybrid by 2030.

"We also want to thank the UK government for its support for this important investment at Halewood which reconfirms Ford's continuing commitment to the UK and our position as a leading investor in this country's auto industry and technological base."

Ford's announcement builds on progress in the expected electric car future in the UK this year as the clock ticks down to the government's 2030 ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel-powered cars under plans to tackle climate change.

Stellantis, the owner of Peugeot and Vauxhall, unveiled plans in July to invest £100m in electric production at Ellesmere Port while Nissan has also confirmed a £1bn investment for a new electric model and a battery plant in Sunderland.

A number of other gigafactories are also under discussion.

In an interview with Sky News, Mr Rowley acknowledged the global shortage of semiconductors was a "huge issue" for the industry currently as electric vehicle production ramps up.

"We'll be investing in reskilling the workforce here in Halewood to bring those new technologies to this part of our business," he told Ian King Live.

The union Unite, which was involved in the negotiations, welcomed the investment but it called on the government to intensify its efforts if the auto sector is to be ready to deliver a functioning electric car system.

Kevin Pearson, Unite's representative for Halewood, said: "The decision recognises the experience, commitment and competitiveness of our world class workforce and is a great source of pride for all of us working at Halewood Transmission Plant and for the wider community."

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