Bridgend Ford: Electric cars idea to keep plant jobs

Ford cars Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Production of a new Jaguar engine at Bridgend was halted for a week in October

Electric cars could hold the key to saving threatened jobs at Ford's plant in Bridgend, an AM has said.

Ford wants to cut 370 workers in the first phase of up to 1,000 job losses, BBC Wales understands.

A contract for Jaguar Land Rover engines finishes at the end of 2019, at about the same time the plant will stop making the Ford Ecoboost engine.

Huw Irranca-Davies said the Welsh Government wanted to help the company set up new production lines.

The Ogmore AM said: "This decision will not be taken by Ford Bridgend but Ford Europe and Ford globally.

"However, what they do know is that they have got a willing partner within Welsh Government.

"Welsh Government has traditionally invested a heck of a lot within the Ford plant and if we need to invest again, I know the Welsh Government will want to."

He called on the company to work with the Welsh Government to look at new production lines and make electric and battery-powered cars.

Image copyright PA
Image caption The job losses in Bridgend would be phased over the next two years

Mr Irranca-Davies said he had spoken to Bridgend AM and former First Minister Carwyn Jones and said they were "determined" as was current First Minister Mark Drakeford to help.

"If we can lend assistance to Ford to retool them for the future to keep this plant there for another 20 or 30 year we will do it," he added.

"We want Ford Europe to engage with us and say 'yes, it is a brilliant workforce that has proved time and time again they are willing to adapt and confront new challenges'."

If plans go ahead, 990 jobs to be lost at Bridgend - almost half of the site's workforce - will go in two phases by 2021, as part of 1,150 losses across the UK.

Ford declined to confirm the figures and said it was currently consulting with unions ahead of implementing a "comprehensive transformation strategy".

Suzy Davies, Welsh Conservative AM for South Wales West, said it could be the "first real test for the new first minister".

'No progress'

The Welsh Government backed Ford's Dragon Engine project to build its new generation of petrol engines at the plant with a grant offer of £14.6m, but that will only employ about 500.

Ms Davies said: "The economy minister said that Welsh Government would only support Ford if five years sustainable and secure employment was guaranteed.

"We need to know how hard Welsh Government have pushed Ford to keep those promises?"

She also poured cold water on discussions about electric engines being manufactured at the site.

"Three years down the line, there appears to have been no progress on this," she added.

Plaid Cymru's Rhun ap Iorwerth said: "Questions have been raised about the future of the plant for some time.

"The Labour Welsh Government should already be at the door of the Ford management pressing them on this decision, which will seemingly lead to terrible consequences for thousands of families that rely on Ford for employment."

The Welsh Government declined to comment.

More on this story