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March 22, 2019

Ford starts to restructure Europe – the week

Ford has begun its European business restructure announced in January and the fact that the axe is hanging over 5,000 jobs was our most-read story this week.

By Olly Wehring

Ford has begun its European business restructure announced in January and the fact that the axe is hanging over 5,000 German jobs was our most-read story this week.

“The goal is to significantly decrease structural costs, reduce bureaucracy, empower leaders and managers, and eliminate less value-added work,” the automaker said. It has now offered “voluntary separation” programmes for employees in Germany and the UK “to help accelerate the plan and return to sustainable profitability and Ford of Germany expects to reduce in excess of 5,000 jobs, including temporary staff. The total number of positions impacted in the UK was “still to be determined” but the Unite union reckons 1,150 posts will go. Ford employs around 53,000 people across Europe with around 24,000 in Germany.

Later in the week, the automaker announced Stuart Rowley, currently chief operating officer for Ford North America, is appointed to the role of president, Ford of Europe, taking on operational leadership of the business unit, including “acceleration of the European transformation strategy”. In recent months, he has worked on “transformation planning” with Steven Armstrong. Rowley succeeds Armstrong who was named chairman, Ford of Europe to oversee “key transformation projects” and joint venture partner interactions for the region, as well as lead engagement with European governments on key industry legislation and issues. Looks like there will be lots more news to come. All this is on top of the loss of 850 transmission jobs in France which has drawn the ire of local politicians.

It isn’t all bad news on the Ford Europe front, though. A local report said the automaker would spend EUR200m at its Romanian plant in Craiova, targeting capacity for 250,000 cars a year. The plant in 2018 built 150,000 cars and 300,000 engines and was Romania’s second largest exporter after Renault’s Dacia. Meanwhile, demand for monster SUVs in the US is up, so the Kentucky plant that builds ’em is adding 500 jobs.

Tata Motors’ Jaguar Land Rover, steadily electrifying its range, wants to increase the uptake of such vehicles so has installed what it claims is the UK’s largest EV smart charging facility with 166 outlets at its Gaydon engineering centre in England. The outlets are for use by employees with JLR noting research shows 40% of electric car charging in Europe takes place at work. Charging points will also be installed in the visitors car park. The 7kW AC smart charging stations, supplied by Shell company NewMotion, can add 22 miles of range to a Jaguar I-Pace every hour and 176 miles in an eight-hour day. The stations are cloud-connected and integrated with the NewMotion public charging network, so employees can charge at stations across Europe using a single card. Users can also monitor and track charging throughout the day with a smartphone app.

Meanwhile, Toyota Australia is encouraging the use of hydrogen, announcing plans to build a A$7.4m hydrogen centre at its former car manufacturing plant in Altona in west Melbourne. The hydrogen centre is part of a larger plan to transform the site into a ‘Centre of Excellence’. Existing car manufacturing infrastructure will be repurposed into the state of Victoria’s first integrated hydrogen site with electrolyser, commercial grade hydrogen refuelling station and an education centre with live demonstrations. Company president and CEO Matt Callachor said the Hydrogen Centre announcement was a step towards the company meeting its target of zero CO2 emissions from sites and vehicles by 2050.

Valeo claims to have invented the 48V mild hybrid system 15 years ago, and are already in production in China and Europe with a “significant production ramp-up” this year. The supplier further claims that advanced orders for 48V machines will make it the number one 48V mild-hybrid supplier in the world by 2020. So is its long shot on 48V mild hybrid tech now paying off? To learn more, we spoke to Michel Forissier, chief technology officer of Valeo’s Powertrain Systems Business Group.

For such a giant company, Mahindra and Mahindra somehow manages to keep a fairly low profile outside India. The Automotive business unit has been quietly working away on the task of integrating – where logical – platforms and powertrains following its purchase of SsangYong Motor. For a long time there were few signs to outsiders that this was even going on. Lately though, there has been a flurry of activity and more is planned. Here’s our look at what’s coming.

We’ve also put Pininfarina under the analyst’s spotlight. It wowed the Geneva motor show with its all-wheel drive electric hypercar and said that would be only the first of several models, adding that the intention is to “manufacture high technology, extreme performance, luxury electric vehicles for the most discerning global customers.”

Have a nice weekend.

Graeme Roberts, Deputy Editor, just-auto.com

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