In the latest confirmation that global auto sales are sliding and that US automakers are struggling to compete in the hypercompetitive European car market – something that President Trump might interpret as another reason to press ahead with auto tariffs presently being studied by the Commerce Department – Ford has announced a massive ‘restructuring’ of its European operations, following in the footsteps of GM’s much broader restructuring, that will entail thousands of job cuts and possibly factory closures.
The cuts are hardly a surprise after the carmaker’s foreign profits have plunged over the past two years thanks in part to exchange rate-related losses spurred by the strength of the dollar, as well as poor sales of its diesel models. According to the BBC, which broke the story, Ford will lay off ‘thousands’ of workers and contemplate factory closures. Ford’s decision to curtail its European operations comes two years after GM sold its European subsidiary to French carmaker Peugeot.
The FT reported that Ford employs 53,000 people in Europe (13,000 in the UK alone) across 15 factories, including two engines plants in the UK at Bridgend and Dagenham. The Bridgend plant in particular could be in danger because Ford lost a major contract to build engines for Jaguar Land Rover in 2020. Meanwhile, Ford’s Dunton Technical Centre in Essex could potentially benefit from new investment in the commercial vehicles
Globally, the automaker is targeting $14 billion in cuts outside North America to try and revive its international business. Analysts have projected that the company could shed up to 24,000 of its international employees as it struggles to reach its 8% profitability target by 2020 (which would put Ford back ahead of Fiat Chrysler). In the region, Ford is targeting profitability of 6% after the restructuring (something it has never before achieved).