Ford is poised to make a huge investment in its UK manufacturing presence, transforming its Halewood plant into a dedicated electric transmission production facility.
Sky News reports that Ford is in talks with the UK’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) about the move but that an official decision is still pending.
Ford’s ambitious electrification goals mean its European passenger car fleet will go all-electric by 2030, but questions remain over the roles its existing plants across Europe will play in this transformation.
The company is investing more than £700 million in turning its Cologne factory – where the Fiesta is currently built – into a dedicated ‘Electrification Centre’, but it has yet to officially detail plans for other major facilities, including Halewood, Saarlouis (where the Focus is built) and the engine production plant in Dagenham, Essex.
Only six months ago, Ford safeguarded around 700 jobs at the Halewood plant by ending its 50/50 joint venture with Magna PT (previously Getrag) and taking full control of the facility – as well as a similarly joint-operated site at its European HQ in Cologne.
Plans for Ford to maintain a presence at Halewood were hinted at by plant manager Andy Roche in March, when he said: “We are convinced now with Ford coming in to buy us that they’ve got plans for us. They took us for a purpose and will want to invest. They’re not going to buy us to shut it down. We see this as a protection of jobs.
“So any new jobs that they create, they will be Ford employees, which is fantastic. It’s fantastic to be associated with a world-renowned company.”
According to Sky, citing an insider source, Ford would be expected to invest hundreds of millions of pounds at Halewood to adapt it for the production of EV gearboxes.
If confirmed, Ford’s move will be the latest in a line of positive news stories for the UK automotive sector. Nissan recently confirmed plans to build a battery factory and a new electric crossover at its Sunderland plant, Jaguar Land Rover vowed to keep its UK sites open as it shifts to electrification and Stellantis safeguarded the future of its Ellesmere Port factory by adapting it to build electric vans.