JAPAN: Ford COO denies Jaguar plant closure plans - report
Ford chief operating officer Nick Scheele on Wednesday denied a report that the US car maker would close one of its three plants in Britain that make Jaguar luxury cars, which have sold poorly recently, Reuters reported.
"The answer is no," Scheele told Reuters at the Tokyo Motor Show, when asked about the report, adding: "This is really speculation that's been running around now for six to nine months."
Reuters noted that Britain's Sunday Times newspaper has reported that Ford plans to close its Brown's Lane plant near Coventry in England's Midlands region, threatening 1,500 jobs - the plant has been making cars for 50 years and is the brand's spiritual home.
"We just launched the XJ in that plant," Scheele told Reuters, referring to Jaguar's new flagship sedan and adding: "We're not planning anything."
The news agency noted that Ford has been cutting costs, and jobs, across Europe to try to return its operations there to profitability while, on Tuesday, ratings agency Standard & Poor's placed Ford's rating under review for a downgrade, citing difficulties in Europe and weakness in North America.
Reuters said Ford of Europe is expected to post a loss before charges of roughly $US1.2 billion this year while Ford said last week it would take a $600 million charge for further European restructuring.
According to Reuters, Scheele said on Wednesday that the European restructuring and new car launches would also help boost results in Europe next year, but he declined to say if Ford's European operations would return to profitability.
"The European market today is brutally tough. The marketplace is under pressure, the German economy, which is the engine of the European economy, is labouring and the German industry is down at levels which I don't think anybody anticipated," Scheele told Reuters.