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Ford to close Bridgend Engine Plant in Wales
Another factory bites the dust as Ford of Europe pushes on with downsizing
10 Jun 2019
FORD of Europe has continued to wind back its operations, announcing that it plans to next year close its 42-year-old Bridgend Engine Plant in Wales that employs about 1700 staff, although it will maintain a presence in the UK.
The factory currently produces 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol engines, including the new-generation EcoBoost GTDI three-cylinder and long-serving Sigma PFI four-cylinder units that do service in the Fiesta ST/Focus and EcoSport/Focus respectively.
It is also responsible for churning out Jaguar Land Rover’s ubiquitous 5.0-litre V8 – in either naturally aspirated or supercharged form – as part of an arrangement that harks back to the Blue Oval’s former ownership of the British marque.
According to Ford of Europe, the Bridgend Engine Plant’s underutilisation played a key role in its shuttering, with lower-than-expected demand for the EcoBoost GTDI and Sigma PFI engines, and the imminent discontinuation of JLR’s V8 to blame.
As a result, the EcoBoost GTDI engine will end its Welsh production run in February 2020 but carry on elsewhere, while manufacturing of JLR’s V8 will cease seven months later and coincide with the yet-to-be-announced official end date for the Bridgend Engine Plant.
“Creating a strong and sustainable Ford business in Europe requires us to make some difficult decisions, including the need to scale our global engine manufacturing footprint to best serve our future vehicle portfolio,” said Ford of Europe president Stuart Rowley.
“We are committed to the UK, however 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.”
Ford of Europe expects the Bridgend Engine Plant closure will cost it about $US650 million ($A933m), which will come from the multi-billion-dollar fund it created for its downsizing operation.
Around $US400m ($A279m) has been allocated to cash payments for employee redundancies, while about $US250m ($A174m) of non-cash charges have been set aside for pension expenses and accelerated depreciation and amortization.
“As a major employer in the UK for more than a century, we know that closing Bridgend would be difficult for many of our employees,” Mr Rowley said.
“We recognise the effects it would have on their families and the communities where they live and, as a responsible employer, we are proposing a plan that would help to ease the impact.”
Nearly 400 staff took voluntary redundancies earlier this year and will leave the Bridgend Engine Plant between May and December, while some employees will be redeployed at other Ford of Europe sites in the UK.
These include the Mobility Innovation Office in London and Dunton Technical Centre in Essex that remain key to the company’s operations.
It also continues to be involved in manufacturing at the Dagenham Engine Plant in London and Halewood Ford Getrag Transmissions joint venture in Merseyside.
Other recent Ford of Europe cutback announcements include more than 5000 redundancies in Germany and the closing of three factories in Russia.
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