Ford Motor Co. is closing a U.K. engine factory as part of an overhaul of its unprofitable European operations in an $11 billion global restructuring.
The Bridgend, South Wales plant, which employs more than 1,500 workers, builds engines for several Ford models in Europe, including the Fiesta and B-Max. Its future became uncertain 18 months ago when Jaguar Land Rover said it would end a contract to make motors for its vehicles. The planned closure by September 2020 drew condemnation from labor groups.
“Ford broke promise after promise to the U.K.,” Unite Union General Secretary Len McCluskey said by email on Thursday. “The company has deliberately run down its U.K. operations so that now not a single Ford vehicle -- car or van -- is made in the U.K.”
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. The Dearborn, Michigan-based carmaker 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 is also closing factories in Germany, France and Russia as part of a deep retrenchment in Europe to weed out slow-selling models. The company wants to focus mainly on its commercial van and pickup truck businesses on the continent, where Ford made a pretax loss of $398 million last year.
By Keith Naughton and Ellen Milligan