Ford plans to invest £125m in electric cars at Halewood | Rare Techy
Ford plans to invest an extra £125 million in the production of electric vehicle parts at its Halewood plant, making it a key part of the company’s emissions-free European ambitions.
The Merseyside plant is scheduled to produce 420,000 electric drives a year from 2024, up from the 250,000 originally planned, Ford said on Thursday.
Last October, the US carmaker announced Halewood’s transition from the production of gearboxes for petrol and diesel cars to the production of drives containing electric motors and power electronics. The additional investment means Ford will spend £380m upgrading its Van Design Center in Halewood and Dunton, Essex, for electric vehicles.
The initial investment decision, backed by around £30m of UK government funding, gave the UK industry a major boost amid concerns that well-paid industry jobs could shift to other countries if companies decide to invest in electric vehicle factories elsewhere.
The Halewood plant employs around 500 people. Ford said the new investment would “secure jobs”, although it is likely that the production expansion would create additional jobs.
Ford closed its Bridgend plant, which produced petrol and diesel engines, in 2019 with the loss of 1,700 jobs, while Japanese carmaker Honda said it plans to close its Swindon plant in 2021. Yet Vauxhall owner Stellantis last year announced plans to upgrade its Ellesmere Port factory to produce electric vans, allaying long-standing concerns over the fate of another major car plant across the River Mersey. Ford also manufactures van diesel engines in Dagenham, Essex.
Ford announced last year that all cars sold in Europe would be electric by 2030, in line with the UK government’s plan to end the sale of clean petrol and diesel cars by 2030 and hybrid cars after 2035. Ford also plans to make two-thirds of commercial vehicle sales fully electric or plug-in hybrids by 2030.
The investment means the Halewood plant will produce 70% of the 600,000 electric-drive units of all Ford electric vehicles sold in Europe by 2026, the company said. The parts are used in electric versions of the Transit Custom and Tourneo Custom vans, as well as an electric version of the UK’s best-selling Puma crossover SUV and potentially future cars.
Kieran Cahill, vice president of Ford’s European industrial operations, said: “Our vision in Europe is to build a successful business by increasing our leadership in commercial vehicles and electrifying our vehicle range. Halewood plays an important role as our first in-house investment in electric vehicle component manufacturing in Europe.