Ford to lay off 12,000 workers in Europe, introduce new vehicle line-up

Ford Motor Co. is overhauling its European business, the carmaker said on Thursday, pushing out a new vehicle line-up, laying off workers and realigning its operations in an effort to improve its financial performance in the region.

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“Ford will be a more targeted business in Europe, consistent with the company’s global redesign,” said European president Stuart Rowley.

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Ford expects to release three new models in the market over the next five years, including an all-electric Mustang-inspired vehicle, part of a broader shift for the Dearborn, Michigan-based company towards emissions-free options.

“Our future is rooted in electrification,” Rowley said. “We are electrifying across our portfolio, providing all of our customers with more accessible vehicle options that are fun to drive, have improved fuel economy and are better for our environment.”

The company is also focusing on sport utility vehicles and imported models for the region, according to a statement. By 2024, Ford expects to triple the number of passenger vehicles it ships to Europe.

With the changes, it is hoping to continue to lead in pickup sales and double profitability over the next five years.

Ford is in the midst of an $11 billion global restructuring effort. Alongside previously announced shifts in its European strategy, the company has also eliminated some production in South America.

The firm is shuttering several factories in Europe, including the closure of the Bridgend Engine Plant in South Wales and a transmission plant in France.

Overall, its total manufacturing outposts in the region will be reduced to 18 facilities at the end of 2020, down from 24 at the start of this year. Ford's headquarters in Britain and its credit hub in Essex are also closing, and shifts will be reduced at assembly plants in Germany and Spain.

The changes are expected to lead to as many as 12,000 layoffs, which Ford says will be done "primarily through voluntary separation." Of the total, 2,000 of the eliminated positions will be part of the carmaker's effort to reduce its salaried posts by 7,000 globally.

“Separating employees and closing plants are the hardest decisions we make,” said Rowley. “We are moving forward and focused on building a long-term sustainable future for our business in Europe.”

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Starting on July 1, the European business will be separated into three new groups: commercial vehicles, passenger vehicles and imports. Ford expects the shift to lead to "fast decision-making centered on customer needs."

While sales in the region improved by $256 million in the first quarter of 2019, overall revenue in Europe was down 14.6 percent year-over-year.