Car giant Ford is to invest £230 million in one of its UK factories to make electric vehicle components, giving a huge boost to the motor industry.
Halewood will be Ford’s first electric vehicle component in-house assembly site in Europe, with production beginning in 2024 – and the move safeguards hundreds of jobs.
Ford has committed to having all its passenger vehicles as all-electric and two-thirds of its commercial vehicle sales all-electric or plug-in hybrid by 2030.
Power unit production in Halewood is expected to begin in mid-2024, with capacity planned to be around 250,000 units a year.
Ford said the investment is subject to, and includes, Government support through its Automotive Transformation Fund.
Stuart Rowley, president of Ford of Europe, said: “This is an important step, marking Ford’s first in-house investment in all-electric vehicle component manufacturing in Europe.
“It strengthens further our ability to deliver 100% of Ford passenger vehicles in Europe being all-electric and two-thirds of our commercial vehicle sales being all-electric or plug-in hybrid by 2030.
“We also want to thank the UK Government for its support for this important investment at Halewood, which reconfirms Ford’s continuing commitment to the UK and our position as a leading investor in this country’s auto industry and technological base.”
“It is absolutely imperative that the Government does not see this investment as a one-off but supports similar schemes to ensure the entire UK automotive industry experiences a smooth transition in the move to build electric vehicles.”
Unite national officer Des Quinn said: “Unite is absolutely dedicated to protect the jobs, pay and conditions of all our members and is working to ensure that similar projects are adopted throughout the UK’s world class automotive sector.”
Ford said Halewood was chosen to supply the power units, which replace the engine and transmission in a conventional petrol or diesel engine vehicle, given its excellent record on quality, competitiveness and the strong skills base and commitment of the employees.
Halewood currently builds transmissions for a number of Ford passenger and commercial vehicles and exports all of its production.
Ford is one of the UK’s largest exporters, exporting engines and transmissions from its facilities to more than 15 countries on six continents – with overseas sales generating around £2.5 billion annually.
There was no information on how much money the Government has given Ford towards the investment, but there was speculation that it was tens of millions of pounds.
The investment will protect the 500 jobs at the Halewood plant and unions hope there is the prospect of hundreds more being created.
Knowsley Council leader Graham Morgan said: “Having the Halewood plant to be selected as the location for the company’s new project shows that Ford are just as proud of Halewood as we are.
“Not only does this announcement effectively secure the future of the site for years to come and protect the jobs of hundreds of people already employed there, but it also brings major investment and new jobs.
“In bidding for this prestigious contract, it is clear that the team at Ford in Halewood have proven their credentials and shown that British manufacturing can still compete with the best across Europe – despite the very real challenges posed by Brexit.”
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