Ford to end car production at German plant, will seek ‘alternative opportunities’ for operations

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Ford Motor Co. has no plans to replace Focus production at its vehicle assembly plant in Saarlouis, Germany, in 2025. Instead, the U.S. company will seek “alternative opportunities” for the factory, including selling it to another automaker, Ford of Europe Chairman Stuart Rowley said.

Rowley, however, stopped short of saying the facility would close.

“We are seeking other alternative opportunities for vehicle production at Saarlouis, including other manufacturers,” Rowley said in a conference call with journalists on Wednesday. “We do not have in our planning cycle an additional model that goes into Saarlouis.”

Saarlouis lost to Ford’s plant in Valencia, Spain, in its bid to produce vehicles on the company’s next-generation electric vehicle architecture starting later this decade, Ford said in a statement.

Both Valencia and Saarlouis will experience “significant” job reductions as Ford pivots to an electric only future, Rowley warned. “The reality of the industry is that the production of EVs will require fewer people,” he said.

Ford currently employs 6,000 people in Valencia and 4,600 in Saarlouis. Ford’s site in Cologne, Germany, is not affected by the headcount reduction. Rowley didn’t give any figures or a timeframe for the headcount reduction.

Ford gave no indication in what segment the electric models built by Valencia will compete.

The plant currently builds the Kuga compact crossover alongside the Galaxy and S-Max large minivans.

Production of the Mondeo midsize family van at the plant has come to an end.

Saarlouis, which rececived a 600 million euro ($630 million) investment in 2017 to prepare it to make the current Focus, has long been under threat as Ford has pivoted to lower cost production sites in Europe. Those locations include as its facility in Craiova, Romania, where it builds the Puma small SUV, and in Kocaeli, Turkey, where it builds its Europe-leading commercial vehicle range.

Production at Saarlouis has been hit by supply chain shortages and the fall in demand for compact hatchbacks in general.

Ford’s attention in Germany is focused on its Cologne facility, which will start building a new crossover based on Volkswagen’s MEB electric platform starting in 2023.

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