UK manufacturing: Ford to reduce planned investment and engine production at Bridgend plant

Kedar Grandhi
UK Manufacturing: Ford to reduce planned investment and engine production at UK factory

Ford will cut down on its planned investment at its engine plant in Bridgend, a town in Wales. The American car maker will reduce it from a planned £181m ($242.83m) to £100m. This was revealed in a letter given to Ford workers at the plant on Tuesday (6 September).

This "revised scale of production" is said to lead to a reduction in the number of engines that were intended to be made at the plant starting 2018. It will now make only 50% of the 250,000 engines annually that were originally planned.

Ford said that this decision would not affect the jobs of the 1,850 staff, who are currently employed at the Bridgend plant. It further added that the new investment would in fact generate 550 new job opportunities. However, this is lower than the 750 job openings that were anticipated earlier.

With regards to the reason for taking this decision, a Ford spokesman as cited by the Financial Times said, "The decision has nothing to do with Brexit; it was taken to reflect falling demand in the European market." Describing the remaining investment as a "substantial commitment", the spokesman added, "While we continue to evaluate the market situation, Bridgend's flexible manufacturing capability means it can adjust rapidly to changing market conditions, scaling production up or down to meet future changes in demand as required."

This news follows the US carmaker announcing in February that it could slash hundreds of jobs in UK and Germany amid European market gloom. It had then unveiled plans to cut hundreds of jobs at its sites in these two countries, amid a restructuring programme to save £149m annually across its European business.

UK Unions have gone to express concerns with regards to Ford's current decision. Andy Richards, the Secretary of Unite Wales, said the decision was "deeply concerning" and "places the plant in a very dangerous situation".

"Strategic decisions such as these are not made overnight. It is Unite's view that this is all part of a long-term restructuring plan across Ford's global operations in which its Bridgend operations are to be slowly dismantled," Richards added.

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