Ford to invest £ 230million in electric vehicle plant in Merseyside | Ford
Ford has announced that it will invest £ 230million in a Merseyside transmission plant to modernize it and manufacture parts for electric vehicles, which represents a major boost for the automotive industry in the north of England.
The US automaker’s investment will help maintain around 500 jobs at the Halewood, Knowsley plant, which currently manufactures transmission systems for gasoline and diesel vehicles. Ford will receive support from the UK government worth around £ 30million, according to a source familiar with the negotiations.
By 2024, the plant lines will produce 250,000 electric drive units annually, components including electric motors and power electronics.
The global auto industry is embarking on the greatest period of upheaval in its history by switching from internal combustion engines to batteries, which produce no direct tailpipe emissions.
For UK industry, the transition has raised questions about the future of several auto factories owned by foreign multinationals that produce gasoline or diesel parts for cars. The workforce at Ford’s Halewood plant has grown from 650 in 2019 to 500 through natural attrition.
Ford said in February that all cars it sells in Europe will be electric by 2030. This fits with the UK government’s plan to end the sale of pure gasoline and diesel cars by 2030, and hybrids after 2035. The automaker also plans to make two-thirds of all-electric or plug-in hybrid utility vehicle sales by 2030.
Ford of Europe chairman Stuart Rowley said Halewood would play an important role in his “very ambitious” plans, but said government action was needed to improve charging infrastructure. He also warned against a possible plan to reduce the level of subsidies for electric cars.
“At Ford, we’re all in it,” he said. “In the industry where we made the decision, we are going electric. But we need to dramatically increase the infrastructure at home, in the workplace. “
Rowley also warned that the computer chip shortages that have plagued the global auto industry for months are “here for a while, until next year.”
Ford’s investment has been welcomed by government, industry and Unite, a union representing workers at the plant. Investment in the UK auto industry stagnated after the Brexit vote in 2016, as automakers awaited details of the trade barriers they would face.
Rowley said the Halewood deal was “backed by the UK-EU free trade agreement – that was essential”.
Business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said the investment was “a huge vote of confidence in Britain’s economic future and in our plans to increase production of electric vehicles.”
Unite General Secretary Sharon Graham said this was “excellent news” and added that it was “absolutely imperative that the government does not view this investment as a one-time operation” and help other factories to switch to electricity.
Last year, Ford shut down a UK engine plant in Bridgend, South Wales, though it pledged to continue producing diesel engines for its Transit vans in Dagenham, in Essex.
Several other UK factories have secured overseas investment commitments, including the Nissan plant in Sunderland, which will build batteries and electric cars, and the Stellantis plant in Ellesmere Port, which will shift production of Vauxhall cars. Astra to electric vans.