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by Matt Brogan

Ford Europe is again cutting production with the Saarlouis plant in Germany to be placed on a four-day week and the Valencia plant in Spain to cut one of its three shifts from May 1st.

Ford declined to reveal how much production the move would take out of its overall equation, but did say the necessary decision was made to balance its output with the significantly decreased industry demand and did not rule out further cuts.

“Ford of Europe must return to sustainable profitability as soon as possible. We will do whatever it takes to ensure the continuing viability of our business and further actions can be expected,” Ford of Europe CEO John Fleming said. “Cutting capacity, reducing costs and safeguarding our future product plans are essential actions for Ford of Europe to sustain a viable business for the future. We considered all the options but decided the best approach in the present circumstances was to re-balance production across our plants in line with the market decline.”

Ford is also rearranging where it built its cars because of the market downturn. The Saarlouis factory will build all derivatives of the next-generation Focus, which means that Focus production currently done in Valencia will move to Saarlouis.

Valencia will keep the Fiesta small car and gain the next generation of the C-Max minivan, which is due in 2010. Currently the C-Max is built in Saarlouis. Production of the Kuga SUV will end in Saarlouis in 2011.

Ford also is considering which of its European plants will build a derivative of the next Focus.

Ford’s engine plants in Cologne, Germany, and Craiova, Romania, will share production of a new low-emission small petrol engine. Each plant will build 350,000 units of the engine, which will be marketed under the EcoBoost name.

Ford’s European sales fell 21.7 percent to 220,000 in the first two months of this year




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