Streamlined product range and more imports part of company's plan to improve profitability
Steve Cropley Autocar
10 January 2019

Ford will import a range of iconic new models, boost production of its strongest European-made cars and SUVs and improve or ditch its slowest-selling local lines as part of a comprehensive plan to improve its competitive position and profitability in Europe.

The plan, part of a £14bn global cost-cutting programme, is described as “decisive action to transform the Ford business” by Ford president Steven Armstrong.

It will include a range of measures to cut costs in areas such as purchasing, manufacturing and engineering, as well as to reduce “surplus labour”, for which union negotiations are just beginning. It is understood that the numbers of jobs affected will be in the thousands.

Opinion: is Ford finally taking action in Europe?

The plan’s two-pronged aim is to improve near-term profitability with the efficiency measures while working at top speed to offer a “more targeted” model range to match fast-improving competition. Every Ford model will include an electrified model, either mild, full or plug-in hybrid, or battery electric.

The company is also expected to announce further details of what it calls “a potential alliance” with the Volkswagen Group within days, perhaps at the Detroit auto show next week. Ford of Europe’s central aim, Armstrong says, is to deliver a pre-tax operating profit of 6% for the longer term as a way of building a sustainable business that currently employs 53,000 people across its 50 markets. Its unprofitable Russian joint venture, Ford Sollers, is under strategic review, says Armstrong, with a decision on its future likely in the second quarter.

Ford is establishing three business groups in Europe, for commercial vehicles (based in Dunton, Essex), for passenger cars (based in Cologne, Germany) and for an expanded range of imported models. The company wants to protect and enhance its leadership in commercials — potentially with help from Volkswagen — but insists that suggestions it will leave the passenger car market are wide of the mark.

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It aims to build on 2018’s SUV sales record of 250,000 units set by Ecosport, Kuga and Edge, but is already advanced with plans to drop the slow-selling C-Max and Grand C-Max people carriers, currently made at Saarlouis in Germany. It has already announced that production of small automatic transmissions will cease this year at Bordeaux, France, and that its UK headquarters will move from its long-established Warley location to the Dunton technical centre.

Steven Armstrong believes importing more Ford-built vehicles provides “an important opportunity”. The American-made Mustang and Edge are likely to be joined by the newly announced Explorer and Europe will also be a target market for the new Mustang-inspired Mach One SUV, due in 2020. Armstrong believes Ford will soon have “a significantly stronger and more focused product line-up” capable of delivering sustainable profits.

READ MORE

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Comments
20

10 January 2019

Redesign - Is that another word for redundancies?

10 January 2019
Ford need to learn from past mistakes! The last Explorer sold here wasn’t all that popular and I can’t see how the new imported one will be anymore? It will be expensive I imagine with uncompetitive fuel returns and C02.

Ford of Europe in the past designed and built original and excellent cars - so much so that even the original Mondeo went to America as did the Fiesta and Focus.

They designed class leading cars of the times like the original KA and Focus MK1.

However to satisfy global designs changed, interiors changed which harmed them, then various imports appeared. The first Eco Sports were a shambles shoddily build imported from India and designed in Brazil.

This news can not surely be good news.... it means even more imports and other countries products coming over that just won’t appeal.

Ford missed an opotinity with the new Focus to make it ultra competitive however saddled it with an average interior, looking at what competitors are doing now.

Shame really they never carried on partnering with Volvo or Mazda as I think that it was they need now a partnership to survive.

The VW commercials alliance is coming, however what this will yield I am unsure as the reviews I read of the Transit seems to suggest it’s better than VW’s offerings in this segment.

10 January 2019
Jimbbobw1977 wrote:

....This news can not surely be good news.... it means even more imports and other countries products coming over that just won’t appeal. .....

All FORD cars/vans are imports already and have been for some time.

typos1 - Just can’t respect opinion

10 January 2019
xxxx wrote:

Jimbbobw1977 wrote:

....This news can not surely be good news.... it means even more imports and other countries products coming over that just won’t appeal. .....

All FORD cars/vans are imports already and have been for some time.

i didn’t type that very well... I know Ford don’t make cars in the UK - but most of the range is European, unlike the Edge which is made in Canada. Eco sport shifted to Romania.. my worry is imports from countries not exactly rounouned for great production like the original eco sport 

jer

10 January 2019

From the usual cost cutting plan is to deliver Euro competitive products and styleiastyleiand dealer support. Interiors and external design are poor. This will also be a disaster for moral and spirit to deliver good products. The problem has been that Europe seems to have lost its role in Ford and the gaps have been filled with bad product.

10 January 2019

 

Non-premium large car sales are falling while people have shifted from MPVs to SUVs. So I wouldn't be surprised if the Mondeo, S-Max and Galaxy aren't replaced, more so as the Fusion is going to be axed in North America while the S-Max and Galaxy are based on the Mondeo/Fusion which would then be pointless for Ford to continue production of these low-selling models while MPVs in general are falling out of favour with buyers. With the Mondeo, S-Max and Galaxy being dropped would, I suspect, see the inevitable closure of the Valencia plant, therefore leaving Saarlouis and Cologne as the remaining European assembly plants, producing the Focus and Fiesta as long these 2 models still sell strongly in Europe. The Kuga and Transit, also currently built at Valencia, will probably be assembled at other plants across the globe, where these 2 models are also currently made, and imported to Europe. The Ka Plus, Mustang and EcoSport are already imported.

 

If I had a crystal ball I see Ford's European car line-up by the end of 2020/start of 2021 being this:

Ka Plus

Fiesta

Focus

Mustang

EcoSport (or its replacement)

Kuga

Edge

10 January 2019

To be honest making a car outside the EU and incurring a 20% tariff + other costs gets you off to a pretty bad start, hence the reason the Japanese have factories here.  Making the Kuga outside Europe will not increase sales.

VAG link up - I can't possibiliy see what VAG would get from the deal

typos1 - Just can’t respect opinion

10 January 2019
xxxx wrote:

To be honest making a car outside the EU and incurring a 20% tariff + other costs gets you off to a pretty bad start, hence the reason the Japanese have factories here.  Making the Kuga outside Europe will not increase sales.

VAG link up - I can't possibiliy see what VAG would get from the deal

Good point. With the Kuga being Focus based, and assuming the next one will be too, production may well shift to Saarlouis where the Focus is currently made, more so if the platform is of a modular design.

10 January 2019

Just read that Ford could be ceasing production at their Bordeaux plant and ending production of C-Max in Saarloius plant, Germany.

Not withstanding any of that, if any British jobs are affected, no doubt the usual commentators will blame Brexit.

10 January 2019
scotty5 wrote:

Just read that Ford could be ceasing production at their Bordeaux plant and ending production of C-Max in Saarloius plant, Germany.

Not withstanding any of that, if any British jobs are affected, no doubt the usual commentators will blame Brexit.

Ford still make a lot of it’s engines in the U.K. like the new 2.0 eco blue diesels. Also they make the JLR 4.4v8 diesel, 3.0 diesel and even the 3.0 diesel for the American market as well, alot of euro eco boost engines are built in the U.K. as well, so Ford still do a lot of production here - it is likely this could impact. 

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