Ford Motor Co. is closing its engine factory in the United Kingdom as part of an overhaul of its unprofitable European operations while also selling off its factories in Russia.
The shutdown of the Bridgend, South Wales plant, which employs more than 1,500 workers and builds engines for several Ford models in Europe, including the Fiesta and B-Max, comes amid the turmoil spawned by Brexit.
Automakers have said Brexit will make it more expensive and more difficult to import components from the European Union.
In addition, the future of the Bridgend plant has been in jeopardy since Jaguar Land Rover said it would end a contract to make motors for its vehicles.
(Ford warns Britain no-deal Brexit could mean UK departure. Click Here for the story.)
In common with other automakers with a U.K. manufacturing presence, the future of Ford’s remaining operations in the country may depend on how the British government proceeds with a plan to leave the European Union by Oct. 31. Ford warned earlier this year that a so-called no-deal exit would have “catastrophic” implications for its operations in the country, where it is the top-selling auto brand.
The Bridgend closure follows the decision by Honda Motor Co. to shutter its Swindon plant in 2021 with the loss of 3,500 jobs. Nissan Motor Co. no longer plans to build the X-Trail sport-utility vehicle in Sunderland, northern England, while Jaguar Land Rover is cutting 4,500 positions worldwide, many of them in the U.K.
Ford also said it is ready to sell its idle Russian plants and has had interest from potential buyers. “We are open to discuss potential sales to other companies,” Ford of Europe Chairman Steven Armstrong told Reuters. “We have had interest from a number of different companies,” he added.
(Click Here for details about Jaguar Land Rover’s plans to eliminate 4,500 jobs.)
Ford said in March that its passenger-vehicle production in Russia will cease by the end of June following the closure of its car plants in Naberezhnye Chelny and Vsevolozhsk near St. Petersburg and an engine plant in Elabug.
Adding to the turmoil in Ford’s stumbling international operations, China’s market regulator have fined Ford’s main local joint venture million last week for violating the country’s anti-monopoly laws, the latest automaker with foreign partners to face such penalties.
The fines come during an intensifying trade war between the United States and China. After Washington put Chinese telecommunications provider Huawei on a trade blacklist, China targeted several U.S. firms for retaliation.
China’s State Administration for Market Regulation said on its website that Ford’s joint venture with Chongqing Changan Automobile Co., Changan Ford, had breached the law by setting a minimum resale price for its cars in the China.