Fleet News

Ford shake-up 'to benefit fleets'

A RADICAL overhaul of Ford's European operations, including the end of car production in the UK, will benefit fleets by guaranteeing vehicle quality and value for money into the future, according to the manufacturer.

A three-month review of all Ford's operations will reinforce the UK's position as the manufacturer's global diesel operations centre with a £500 million investment at its engine plant in Dagenham. But the price is the end of car production in the UK. The Fiesta, the last 'British' Ford, will be moved from Dagenham to Cologne when 'new Fiesta' begins production in 2002.

It will mean the loss of about 1,900 jobs at the UK plant, despite an earlier Ford promise that it would be home to the next generation Fiesta. However, 400 new jobs will be created with the focus on diesel, which will see an expansion in the range available to fleets and could ultimately herald the arrival of a diesel engine in a Jaguar. The Dagenham plant, where 4,500 people will work, is already Ford's sole global source of diesel engines and the move will increase production and see heavy investment in a new large engine for future models of the Galaxy and Transit. Total production at the plant will be almost one million engines per year.

Ian McAllister, chairman and managing director of Ford of Britain, said: 'Fleets want a quality product at an affordable price. The cars we are selling in the UK will still have a major proportion of British content. The fleet market is becoming more like the retail market with growth in user-choosers and you have to meet their demands.'

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