By Mike Torpey on 2022-12-01 - Driving Force news editor and responsible for organising our daily output. He was staff motoring editor of the Liverpool Echo for 20 years.
Ford's £125m boost
for UK jobs
FORD is investing a further Â£125 million in its Halewood plant on Merseyside - increasing capacity by 70 per cent and securing the jobs of 500 workers in the process.
Today's announcement from the automotive giant follows last year's decision to transform the facility to build power units for future electric cars and vans, raising the total spent at Halewood to Â£380m.
The company is committed to building an all-electric vehicle range centred on zero emission car sales by 2030, followed by all vehicles including vans by 2035.
And with capacity at the plant raised from 230,000 to 420,000 units a year - itself a 70 per cent boost - it also means that 70 per cent of the 600,000 electric vehicles Ford expects to sell annually in Europe by 2026 will be powered by Halewood-built technology.
The latest investment - which includes government support from UK Export Finance, through their Export Development Guarantee - will help safeguard the 500 high-value Ford jobs at Halewood and upskill them for Ford's EV future.
Ford's EV push in Europe supports the company's global plan for two million annual production of EVs in the same time frame.
The Ford Puma compact SUV, E-Transit Custom electric van, Transit Courier, Tourneo Courier and other future products will be fitted with the UK-built products.
It means Halewood will deliver to the vehicles' assembly lines in Romania and Turkey making up a significant share of Ford UK's annual export value from the Merseyside plant, as well as Dagenham - currently worth Â£2.1 billion a year.
Kieran Cahill, Ford's European Industrial Operations vice-president, said: "Ford is a global American brand, woven into the fabric of Europe for more than 100 years and a major employer at Halewood for almost 60 years.
"Our vision in Europe is to build a thriving business, by extending leadership in commercial vehicles and through the electrification of our car range. Halewood is playing a critical part as our first in-house investment in EV component manufacturing in Europe."
Ford's Â£24 million E:PriME centre, at the company's Dunton product development HQ, is building prototypes of the electric power unit and training Halewood employees in its machining and assembly..
The power unit, comprising edrive motor and gearbox, replaces the engine and transmission of a conventional engine vehicle by propelling an EV using battery energy.
Tim Slatter, chairman of Ford UK, said: "This is an all-important next step for Ford towards having nine EVs on sale within two years. Our UK workforce is playing a major role in Ford's all-electric future, demonstrated by Halewood's pivot to a new zero-emission powertrain, and E:PriME's innovation at Dunton in finalising the production processes."
Halewood's selection marked Ford's first in-house investment in all-electric vehicle component manufacturing in Europe and the Halewood plant's new operation is targeting carbon neutral energy supply for production start in 2024.
Electricity and gas are already from renewable sources and the installation of solar panels will generate up to 1,782 MWh.
Other Halewood projects contributing to total carbon neutrality for Ford in Europe by 2035 include electric locomotives used to shunt heavy loads, replacing diesel, and EV charge points for employees.
International Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch said: "Our support for Ford is great news for jobs in Essex and Merseyside and British manufacturing as a whole. Ford is a major employer in the UK and the high-skilled jobs it provides help communities to thrive.
"We have consistently backed Ford as it makes its critical transition towards electrification. Boosting electric car production is key to our strategy to combat climate change and today's news demonstrates how our manufacturing industry, our exports and our economy will benefit from this transition."
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