Ford Motor has warned Theresa May that the company will intensify preparations to move production outside the UK, The Times reported on Thursday, according to Agerpres. The statement was made during a private discussion between British Prime Minister and business leaders, the Times reported. Ford representatives were not available for comment.
Another participant in the discussion said other companies have sent similar warnings to the Prime Minister to those of Ford.
“There are no contingency plans, we take action because of the uncertainties. It’s something real”, said a participant at the meeting with Theresa May. The Ford announcement is a new strike against the UK automotive industry, which has seen a nearly 50% fall in investment mainly due to Brexit’s uncertainties.
Last week, the Nissan car group decided to stop producing one of its most popular X-Trail crossover models at the Sunderland plant in northeastern England, which is currently Europe’s leading plant. The company’s leadership indirectly evoked Brexit as one of the motives.
“We made this decision for economic reasons, but the uncertainty that remains about UK-EU relations does not help societies such as ours in planning their future,” said Gianluca de Ficchy, president of Nissan Europe . The next generation of X-Trail for the European market will be produced at the Kyushu plant in Japan, not Sunderland, as announced in 2016. Other future models that were to produced at Sunderland, SUVs Juke and Qashqai will not be affected by this decision, the group said. Also at Sunderland are the Leaf electric car and the models of the Infinity luxury brand assembled.
The Sunderland Nissan Factory, the largest in the UK, plays a central role in the city’s economy with 275,000 inhabitants, who voted 61% for Brexit in 2016. The plant was inaugurated in 1986 and where 7,000 people work, produces 500,000 vehicles per year, of which 55% are exported to the EU without payment of custom duties, which could change if Britain leaves the EU without agreement.
A whole series of well-known names in the industry have made alarming announcements for the British economy with Brexit’s perspective. At the end of January, Airbus warned that it would take “very painful decisions” in the case of Brexit without an agreement, Japanese giant Sony decided to move its European headquarters to the Netherlands, and another technology group, Dyson, said it would move to Singapore, although it said this was not because of Britain’s exit from the EU. Toyota, for its part, warned that an exit without an agreement would cause a temporary disruption of its production in England.
This month, Ford has begun a Europe-wide restructuring program to lay off 400 employees from its Bridgend engine plant in Wales. Trade unions expect to be laid off up to 1,000 Bridgend employees in the next two years. A Ford spokesman confirmed the decision, saying: “The company introduces a voluntary leaving scheme for all employees at the Bridgend plant as part of the restructuring of operations in Europe. The program is a result of discussions with labor unions on plant requirements regarding labor for engines estimated to be manufactured in the near future. “
The information comes after the US automaker last month warned that a “rough” Brexit would cost Ford 615 million pounds ($ 800 million) this year. Ford has around 13,000 employees in the UK, about a quarter of its total workforce in Europe (54,000 people). The number of redundancies that would take place in the UK and the continent as a result of the restructuring of operations will not be known until just a few months later, the leaders of the car manufacturer said. However, they warned that we could be speaking about thousands of jobs rather than hundreds, as Ford is accelerating its plans to become “the world’s most trusted company that produces intelligent vehicles for a smart world” .
In addition to the Bridgend plant in Wales, the company also has a unit at Dagenham in Essex, and a host of other facilities in the UK.
Ford believes that after the 2016 vote on the UK’s exit from the EU, the company lost hundreds of millions of pounds, following the depreciation of the currency and the decline in sales in the United Kingdom.
Ford Motor has approximately 197,000 employees and 67 factories around the world. The second largest US car manufacturer, Ford is also present on the Romanian market.
Source: G4media (Translation TFP)