Ford is laying off some 3,500 workers in Germany as the automaker ends the production of the Focus – the once crazily popular car that never managed to get off the ground with its electric version – in 2025.
Next year, Ford is wrapping up production of the Focus at the Saarlouis plant, the only model built there, to transition to selling only BEV cars in Europe, reports Automotive News Europe.
Rumors started brewing about the plant’s future two years ago when Ford made the call to build its next-gen EVs in Spain and not reboot and retrain workers at Saarlouis. Ford and IG Metall have been in negotiations to determine the fate of the workers.
The Saarlouis plant currently employs about 4,500 people, with 1,000 of those jobs getting retraining options after 2025. Still, IG Metall – a union that holds tremendous political sway in Germany – says it has done its job in providing a soft landing for the workers: No forced layoffs will happen until 2032, and employees can opt to leave early with an “attractive and well-funded severance deal,” the report said.
“We could not achieve the best solution so we decided to make do with the second-best option: to make job cuts as expensive as possible for Ford,” said Joerg Koehlinger, district manager of IG Metall Mitte, according to Automotive News Europe.
Last October, Ford was reportedly in talks with a potential investor for the plant, but those plans fell through. BYD was reported to be among the companies interested, but the Chinese automaker has since announced it is opening its first European plant in Hungary.
Ford began production of its Focus Electric at Saarlouis in 2013, a few years after it was launched in the US and built in Michigan. But Ford pulled the plug on European sales in 2017, and 2018 in the US due to weak sales.
In December, Volkswagen too said it would cut thousands of jobs in Germany in an effort to slash $11 billion in costs. Volkswagen’s Zwickau site, which employs 10,000 and is the first to exclusively produce electric cars, has been shaving off jobs due to weakening production demands, it says, starting with 500 temporary jobs being cut next year. At VW software subsidiary Cariad, 2,000 of 6,5000 people employed there will lose their jobs over the next two years.
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