Troubles for Ford in the UK and China
According to the press in the UK, Ford is set to close its Bridgend engine plant. Meanwhile, Ford and its Chinese partner Chan’An are facing a 20,9 million euro fine in China for price fixing.
For Ford, the fine comes at a bad time. Its sales in China are down over 35 % in the first quarter of this year. The fine is issued amid a trade war between the US and China.
According to ITV, Ford will announce the closure during the course of this day. The BBC claims the company will meet with workers unions today.
The unconfirmed news of the Bridgend engine plant closure doesn’t seem far-fetched. Besides its own ‘Dragon’ engine, Ford still produces Jaguar-Land Rover engines at its Wales plant. But that contract will cease by the end of this year.
Ford opened its plant in Wales 40 years ago and today employs 1.500 people there. The Bridgend closure would fit in Ford’s plan to restructure its worldwide operations. The company employs 54.000 people in Europe. 13.000 of them work in the UK, where no Ford cars are built.
If the plant were to close, it would be a blow for the UK automotive industry. Nissan already decided not to produce a new SUV in the UK and Honda has announced to close its Swindon plant in 2021.
On the Chinese market, Ford is not performing well. In the first quarter of this year, it sold 136.129 vehicles there, a drop by 35,8 %. Non-Chinese manufacturers have to associate with a local partner to be able to sell cars in the country. Ford partnered with Chang’An, the company now facing the 20,9 million euro fine.
The Chinese national administration accuses the manufacturer of fixing minimum sales prices in the huge city of Chongqing. By doing this, it has violated anti-monopoly laws.”The behavior of Chang’An-Ford has denied its dealers the power of decision over the sales price. It also has weakened the competition within the brand and competitiveness with other manufacturers, as well as undermine market competition and violate legitimate consumer interests”, says the administration.
The fine corresponds to 4% of 2018 Ford sales in Chongqing. Chang’An-Ford respects the decision taken by the administration.
The announcement comes amid a trade war between the US and China. The car industry is also impacted. The conflict escalated mid-may when US President Trump announced higher import tariffs on 200 billion dollars worth of Chinese products.
Since then, both China and the US have announced measures and counter-measures almost on a daily basis.