Ford said on Wednesday (24 October) it had started “a consultation process” in Belgium on plans to close its Genk plant and to cease vehicle production there by the end of 2014.

“The plan, pending the outcome of the consultation process, could result in the transfer of the next-generation Mondeo, S-MAX and Galaxy to Ford’s Valencia plant in Spain,” the automaker said in a statement.

“Pending further study, production of the C-MAX and Grand C-MAX compact multi-purpose vehicles could move from Valencia to Saarlouis, Germany, in 2014 under the proposed plan.” 

The automaker is set to to provide more details of its overall “transformation plan for Europe” during a conference call for financial analysts and media on Thursday, 25 October.

Genk builds the current Mondeo, now in its final year, and was expected to build the redesigned model line (already being built and sold as the Fusion in North America) from 2013 though industry sources had said recently that the production start had been postponed to the third quarter of next year.

Ford said the proposal to restructure its Europe manufacturing operations was part of its “comprehensive plan to respond to structural market changes and deliver profitable growth in the region”.  

“If the plan [to close Genk in 2014] is confirmed, Ford would resource several vehicles to more fully utilise its European plants,” the automaker said.

The plan would help to address manufacturing overcapacity stemming from a more than 20% drop in total industry vehicle demand in western Europe since 2007. New vehicle sales in the region have reached a nearly 20-year low this year and are expected to remain flat or fall further next year.

“The proposed restructuring of our European manufacturing operations is a fundamental part of our plan to strengthen Ford’s business in Europe and to return to profitable growth,” said Ford Europe chairman and CEO, Stephen Odell.

“We understand the impact this potential action would have on our work force in Genk, their families, our suppliers and the local communities. We fully recognise and accept our social responsibilities in this difficult situation and, if the restructuring plan is confirmed, we will ensure that we put in place measures and support to lessen the impact for all employees affected,” Odell added.

The proposed plan includes:

  • Ford has initiated an information and consultation process with representatives of employees regarding the company’s intention to close its underutilised Genk plant and cease vehicle production by the end of 2014 with the loss of approximately 4,300 direct jobs
  • If the proposed plan is confirmed, production of the next-generation Mondeo, S-MAX and Galaxy “could” move to Ford’s assembly plant in Valencia, Spain
  • Pending further study, production of the C-MAX and Grand C-MAX compact multi-purpose vehicles “could” move from Valencia to Saarlouis, Germany, in 2014