Yesterday, the auto analysts from Credit Suisse sent out a very interesting note to investors. They highlighted a story in the Wall Street Journal that Ford was working on a ‘restructuring plan’ for its loss-making European operations.
Although this plan is still being ‘worked on’ a Ford source was quoted as saying it includes the prospect for a plant closure in Europe, thought to be the two facilities in Genk, Belgium, home to the Mondeo, Galaxy and S-Max.
Officially, Ford told the WSJ that the company was reviewing its European business, and would ‘match production to demand’ as well as paring costs and rolling out new models.
I have to say this wasn’t a big surprise. I was very suspicious when Ford announced a six month delay for the launch of the new Mondeo - citing quality and production issues. Who on earth launches a mainstream car a year before it is due to go on sale and then raises questions about production line quality? The Credit Suisse chaps had the hard figures on the Genk dilemma. Genk No1 reached its peak Mondeo output back in 2001, when it made 330,000 examples. Genk No2, home of the MPV sisters, peaked in 2007 102,000 units. Last year No1 made just 98,000 Mondeos and No2 just 80,000 MPVs.