Ford plans massive layoffs overseas in favor of EV development, inciting Europe-wide union threats

New details of Ford Motor Company planning thousands of job cuts in Europe continue to emerge following a report from media last week. The layoffs will mostly affect those Ford employees working in vehicle development, especially in Germany and the UK, although job cuts to other Ford facilities are apparently in the works as well. The layoffs come as Ford looks to shift its production strategy to larger vehicles and EVs, but news of the cuts is already triggering unions in Europe to threaten to step in.

Ford of Europe is the subsidiary of the American automaker that develops and manufactures vehicles for markets overseas. With over fifty years of operations, Ford’s Cologne, Germany HQ oversees ten different manufacturing facilities across seven countries in Europe, including a new solar power plant at its Spain location.

In recent years, Ford has remained quite open about its plans for the future, which include a full embrace of electrification, no matter the short term costs. While such a quest is admirable, it is not without its fair share of collateral damage as the legacy automaker phases out ICE vehicle production jobs in favor of electric vehicle assembly processes.

Last summer, we reported that Ford was laying off 8,000 US employees, mostly those assembling gas vehicles. At the same time, Ford was seemingly gearing up for second reckoning in Europe, adapting a similar focus on electrification in a market that looks to completely ban all combustion sales by 2035.

In December of 2022, we were reporting that Ford was strategizing to sell “American heritage” to customers in Europe, abandoning smaller ICE sedans for larger SUVs, crossovers, and electric vehicles – again similar to its approach in the states.

Like the US last summer, Ford employees in Europe may soon feel the wrath of a green wave as the automaker plans to lay off thousands in a massive restructuring; so much so that worker’s unions are on the cusp of stepping in.

Ford to fire thousands in Europe to refocus on SUVs and EVs

During a meeting at Ford of Europe’s headquarters in Cologne today, employees were told that a majority of the job losses would come in product development as the automaker shifts away from smaller combustion models like the Fiesta and Focus, in favor of EVs like the Mustang Mach-E.

According to local press reports in Europe, 2,500 to 4,000 product development jobs of the 6,250 currently employed by Ford could get axed.

German union IG Metall stated that a majority of the layoffs will hit Germany and will include a reduction of administrative roles at HQ, including up to 1,900 layoffs in Cologne alone. That said, other Ford facilities in Europe will reportedly also see major job reductions.

Ford’s Merkenich facility where it currently develops the compact sedans mentioned above, may see as many as 3,800 jobs go as those ICE models are phased out. Reports say Ford’s research center in Aachen, Germany, and technical center in the UK will also face some job cuts.

Ford Europe employees were told that total job loss numbers will not be finalized until February, but unions supporting those employees are already standing by to step in if need be. Per IG Metall:

If negotiations between the works council and management in coming weeks do not ensure the future of workers, we will join the process. We will not hold back from measures that could seriously impact the company not just in Germany but Europe-wide.

Having unions in Europe involved could certainly affect Ford’s production output overseas, should the employees band together and potentially strike in support of their fired colleagues. This will be an ongoing saga to watch and Ford finalizes its layoffs and shifts its development again toward an all-electric future.

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