U.K. Ford production just restarted at the automaker’s Dagenham engine plant and Bridgend engine plant following a prolonged shutdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, there’s no telling how long either facility will remain open moving forward.
That’s because Ford announced back in March that it was planning on closing the Bridgend plant for good on September 25th after 40 years of service, citing changing customer demand and cost structures as the reasons for the move. But now, the firm is warning that it could cease manufacturing in the U.K. completely if the government doesn’t step in to help.
The news comes to us via Andy Barratt, Managing Director of Ford of Britain, who warned that U.K. Ford production would not be able to return to pre-coronavirus levels unless the government permits it to reopen its dealerships and also does something to stimulate demand for new vehicles. Currently, Dagenham is running at around 75 percent of its pre-COVID-19 levels, while Bridgend is nearly back to full capacity.
“It’s Ford’s view that it is necessary we have stimulus in the market to help customers come back with confidence. That may be a scrappage scheme or something similar, but without a doubt some sort of stimulus is really needed to get the car business moving in the U.K.,” Barratt told ITV News. “Without any degree of stimulus, there is no doubt we can’t keep the factories running on the U.K. demand levels as they are. Other countries are bringing stimulus in, so manufacturing and production will move elsewhere.”
The U.K. last ran a vehicle scrappage scheme, or stimulus, back in 2017-2018. Similar to America’s “Cash For Clunkers” stimulus (which Ford has also suggested should make a return in the U.S.), the scrappage scheme encouraged existing vehicle owners to trade in their older, less environmentally-friendly models for new ones. The U.K. government chipped several thousand pounds toward the cost of a new vehicle for those who participated.
Whether or not the U.K. government goes for such a scheme remains to be seen. But if Ford production in the country was to cease for good, it would take thousands of jobs along with it.
We’ll be keeping a close eye on this developing story and will report back as soon as we have more, so be sure and subscribe to Ford Authority for the latest Ford-related COVID-19 news and 24/7 Ford news coverage.