Ford’s to shut Bridgend engine plant by September 2020

(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Thur, 6th June 2019) London, Uk – –

The company is set to confirm details of its plans this afternoon as it battles weakening demand for internal combustion engines.

By James Sillars, business reporter

Ford is to close its engine plant at Bridgend in South Wales by September 2020, Sky News understands.

The company is due to make a formal announcement this afternoon once the decision – widely reported on Wednesday night – has been fully communicated to the factory's 1,700 staff.

The Unite union reacted by saying it would fight the closure “with all our might” – accusing the company of breaking promises to its 13,000-strong UK workforce.

The Bridgend plant, which opened almost 40 years ago, has faced a series of recent cutbacks as orders dried up amid the growing backlash against petrol and diesel engines in favour of electric vehicles.

Sky News revealed in February a voluntary redundancy programme would result in 400 job losses – with 600 further posts at Bridgend under threat as Ford moved to cut costs and drive profitability across its European operations.

It announced just weeks ago that 550 jobs at its Dunton technical centre were to go as part of 7,000 job losses worldwide.

GMB regional organiser Jeff Beck said: “We're hugely shocked by today's announcement, it's a real hammer blow for the Welsh economy and the community in Bridgend.

“Regardless of today's announcement GMB will continue to work with Ford, our sister unions and the Welsh Government to find a solution to the issue and to mitigate the effects of this devastating news.”

The industry is grappling not only the environmental challenge but also vying to win the race for self-driving technology at a time of tougher conditions for the world economy.

The US-China trade war has been blamed for depressing demand for new vehicles in key markets.

While Ford is not expected to specifically blame Brexit for its Bridgend decision, the company told Sky News earlier this year it would have to carefully consider its UK operations in the event of a no-deal scenario.

The UK car industry has been one of the most vocal opponents of a so-called messy divorce from the EU, saying it is imperative that the flow of goods is maintained and that products remain tariff-free.

Ford is the latest firm to cut back in the UK as the Brexit issue remains unresolved and the sector looks for savings to invest in the future.

Honda is to cease production at its Swindon plant by 2021 with the loss of 3,500 jobs while Jaguar land Rover is cutting 4,500 roles.

Nissan also announced it had cancelled plans to build its new X-Trail in Sunderland.