Ford Motor Co. is mulling eliminating as many as 3,200 jobs in Europe as it looks to trim expenses in the midst of its expansion of electric vehicle development and production and the rising costs associated with both.
The jobs, 2,500 in product development and another 700 administrative posts, are located primarily in Germany. This has IG Metall, one of Germany’s most powerful unions, vowing to fight the move. Talks between the company and the union are ongoing, reported Reuters.
Most of the jobs in danger are at the automaker’s Cologne, Germany site. Employing about 14,000 workers, it received a $2 billion investment last year to expand production of electric vehicles. The move came as the company announced it would convert its plant in Valencia, Spain to build its next-gen battery-electric vehicle platform.
Ford, like most other automakers in Europe, is committed to an all-electric fleet on the continent by 2030.
That shift to a 100% electric line-up comes with some potential stumbling blocks — none bigger than the expected reduction in jobs. EVs have few components and require fewer people to build them. At the time of the Valencia announcement, Ford said there would be a “significant” restructuring at Valencia.
Fast forward to now, due to a variety of factors, the costs associated with building electric vehicles have risen dramatically, but the tough European mandates for EVs and carbon neutrality have not.
Big shift means big change
The warning the company offered last year about the changes that need to come in Spain appear to be expanding into Germany as well. Ford is reportedly in talks to sell its plant in Saarlouis, Germany to Chinese EV maker BYD.
The EV maker is the largest in China and is in growth mode so a manufacturing facility outside its home country is certainly is part of that effort. It currently produces electric buses at a plant in Hungary.
While BYD appears the be the early favorite, multiple reports claim there are as many as 15 potential suitors for the site. The regional government is working with Ford to find a new buyer for the plant, Reuters reported.
With those talks — and the 4,600 workers whose jobs may be in jeopardy — as a backdrop, the move to cut an additional 3,200 jobs has IG Metall’s attention.
“If negotiations between the works council and management in coming weeks do not ensure the future of workers, we will join the process,” union officials said, according to Reuters. “We will not hold back from measures that could seriously impact the company, not just in Germany but Europe-wide.”
Ford employs about 45,000 people in Europe and has plans to introduce seven new electric vehicles there in the next several years. The union reportedly asked Ford to commit to no layoffs until Dec. 31, 2032.