Ford investing £230m at Halewood site to make electric vehicle parts – Could be a boost for North Wales supply chain
Ford will invest £230 million to start making electric-vehicle components at its gearbox manufacturing plant in Halewood.
Halewood will be Ford’s first European plant to produce components for electric cars.
The Merseyside site currently produces transmissions for internal combustion engines, the transition of its operations will enhance the existing skills of the workforce to manufacture electric drive units (EDUs).
EDUs control all the elements that move the wheels on an electric vehicle, including the speed, torque and direction, units will be built from 2024.
The move will safeguard 500 jobs and there is the prospect of between 400–700 jobs being created.
Stuart Rowley, Ford of Europe president, said the decision is a “big deal, particularly for our people in Halewood our first electrified component facility in Europe.”
“It strengthens further our ability to deliver 100 per cent of Ford passenger vehicles in Europe being all-electric and two-thirds of our commercial vehicle sales being all-electric or plug-in hybrid by 2030.”
Unions have welcomed the news, Des Quinn, Unite National Officer said: “The union has been working behind the scenes to ensure that the jobs of our members at Halewood were protected.”
“Unite is absolutely dedicated to protect the jobs, pay and conditions of all our members and is working to ensure that similar projects are adopted throughout the UK’s world-class automotive sector.”
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “This investment is excellent news for the highly skilled workforce at Halewood as it secures the future of the plant.”
“It is absolutely imperative that the government does not see this investment as a one off but supports similar schemes to ensure the entire UK automotive industry experiences a smooth transition in the move to build electric vehicles.”
Professor Peter Wells, a car industry expert from Cardiff University said the move will see a shift in the supply base at Ford Halewood and businesses in North Wales could benefit.
Speaking to BBC Wales breakfast, he said: “This is a very big announcement, it’s a crucial part of the jigsaw for Ford, looking at their European manufacturing footprint, looking at their plans for 2030 they need this powertrain plant, they need it somewhere and so it’s great that it’s gone to Halewood.”
Asked what the investment by Ford would mean for the industry in North Wales, Prof Wells said: “There will be a change in the supply base for sure and that would depend on how far Ford themselves decide to build the components and assemble in house and how far they want to get other suppliers involved.”
“I’m expecting to see some turnover of the supply base, it’s a big investment so I can imagine new suppliers will be coming in looking for opportunities to invest in the locality and to serve probably other customers in the UK market as well.”
Fords decision to invest in Halewood follows a successful bid for funding through the APC managed Automotive Transformation Fund, Julian Hetherington APC Automotive Transformation Director, said:
“We are delighted that Ford has made this commitment to the UK and the Halewood site.
“We know that the insight and capability gained from various APC-supported projects, together with the ATF investment funding from Government to support the transition of its operations, put the Halewood site in a really strong position.
“It is a great example of the importance of continuing to invest in collaborative research and development, as having that engineering expertise in the UK makes a stronger case for siting the manufacturing activity here and accelerates the UK’s progress towards net zero.”
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