Ford is to close its Bridgend engine manufacturing plant in 2020, a move described by unions as a ‘real hammer blow’ and a ‘grotesque act of economic betrayal’.
Around 1,700 jobs are expected to be lost at the plant, which has been operational since 1977.
“Changing customer demand and cost disadvantages, plus an absence of additional engine models for Bridgend going forward make the plant economically unsustainable in the years ahead,” said Stuart Rowley, president, Ford of Europe.
According to Ford, the impending end of engine production for Jaguar Land Rover, the cessation of the previous generation Ford GTDi 1.5-litre engine and reduced global demand for the new generation Ford GTDi and Pfi 1.5-litre engine are all factors that have brought about Bridgend’s demise.
In October 2018, Ford started production of three-cylinder, 1.5-litre EcoBoost engines at Bridgend. The new engines were being built on a new manufacturing facility following of an investment of £100m, which included support from the Welsh government.
“Ford broke promise after promise to the UK,” said Len McCluskey, Unite general secretary. “First, it was that it would build 500,000 engines at Bridgend. That fell to a quarter of a million, then fell again and again to now just 80,000. The company has deliberately run down its UK operations so that now not a single Ford vehicle – car or van – is made in the UK.”
Commenting on today’s development, Richard Gane, director and automotive sector specialist at management consultancy, Vendigital, said: “This is dire news for the UK automotive industry and will have a knock-on effect across the domestic supply chain.
“Demand for diesel-engine cars has fallen away significantly across Europe and sales of plug-in EVs have only recently begun to pick up strongly – reaching record levels in March this year.
“For plants producing petrol or diesel engines, there is an urgent need to make adjustments by decreasing production capacity whilst investing in new areas of production such as electric engines, motors and batteries.”
Production of the new generation Ford 1.5-litre engine will end in February 2020, with manufacture of the engines supplied to Jaguar Land Rover ceasing in September 2020, when Bridgend is expected to close.