LONDON -- Ford is expected to announce on Thursday that it is closing its engine facility in Wales, a source told Reuters, putting at risk 1,700 jobs in what would be the latest blow to Britain's car industry.
Ford is making cuts in several markets to turn around loss-making operations but has also repeatedly warned the British government that it needs free trade to be maintained with the European Union after Brexit, the terms of which remain unclear.
Its Bridgend plant in Wales built around 20 percent of Britain's 2.7 million automotive engines last year but a contract to supply Jaguar Land Rover ends in 2020 leaving a run of its own Dragon gasoline engines which are sent abroad to be fitted into vehicles.
Union officials were due to meet Ford representatives on Thursday. "If our worst fears are confirmed it will mean disaster for both our members in Bridgend and the community at large, who we will stand by the tough thick and thin," said GMB union organizer Jeff Beck.
Ford makes about 1.3 million engines at two British locations, Bridgend and Dagenham, eastern England. It has previously warned it could face $1 billion in tariff costs in the event of a so-called hard Brexit.
Ford's British-built engines, which are shipped for fitting in vehicles in Germany, Turkey, the United States and elsewhere, could face delays and extra costs if Britain leaves the EU without securing a deal with the European Union.
The Bridgend plant has been a major source of engines for vehicles sold in North America, for three brands – Ford, Jaguar and Land Rover. But changes to product plans have reduced the vehicles that Bridgend-built engines are used in.
Jaguar Land Rover operates a plant within a plant at Bridgend to produce V-8 engines.
JLR’s AJV8 produced at Bridgend is used in certain Range Rover and Jaguar high-performance models. Jaguar has just launched a powerful new twin-turbo inline six-cylinder engine that will likely replace some V-8 applications. Also, JLR is expected to begin using a twin-turbo V-8 sourced from BMW.
In January, Ford said that as part of a turnaround effort in Europe it would cut thousands of jobs, look at plant closures and discontinue loss-making vehicle lines. While the company has announced 5,000 job cuts in Germany, its second-biggest European market, it has yet to make major decisions in Britain, which is its biggest.
Ford declined to comment when contacted by Automotive News Europe.
Nick Gibbs and Richard Truett contributed to this report