The second stronghold of Ford’s European operations could fall in 2025, with Ford confirming it will not replace the German-made Focus hatchback after its lifecycle ends in 2025.
Ford of Europe Chairman Stuart Rowley told a conference call of journalists today he was hunting for “alternative opportunities” for the Saarlouis body assembly and manufacturing operation.
There is no confirmed change for the giant Cologne operation that has been Ford’s continental mainstay since 1929, which will take the lion’s share of production of Volkswagen MEB-based EVs from 2023.
The options for Ford include selling the plant to another automaker or repurposing it for other, unconfirmed operations.
“We are seeking other alternative opportunities for vehicle production at Saarlouis, including other manufacturers,” Rowley said today.
“We do not have in our planning cycle an additional model that goes into Saarlouis.”
It could have been used to build the new Ford range of EVs, based on the Volkswagen Group’s MEB architecture, batteries and electric motors, but it lost its bid to the Ford Spain plant in Valencia.
Ford of Europe is moving to a pure electric future and large job losses were expected from the 4600 workers at Saarlouis and the 6000 people at Valencia in the transition to EVs anyway.
“The reality of the industry is that the production of EVs will require fewer people,” Rowley said.
Ford currently employs 6,000 people in Valencia and 4,600 in Saarlouis, which opened in 1970 and sits on 296 acres of land.
Other than the Ford plant, Saarlouis is most famous for sitting on the Saar river and having been periodically French and German, and also being the birthplace of Napoleonic-era French hero, Marshall Michel Ney.
Ford’s site in Cologne, Germany, is not affected by the headcount reduction.
The Valencia plant, to which Saarlouis lost out, builds both the S-Max and Galaxy minivans and the Kuga compact SUV. It also built the Mondeo sedan and wagon, but they have been discontinued by Ford and will not be directly replaced.
Ford has had a long history in Germany, starting work on its Cologne plant in 1929 in response to GM’s purchase of a controlling interest in Opel (now owned by Stellantis). Henry Ford himself laid the foundation stone in 1930, and the first Ford – a Model A truck – rolled off the Cologne production line in 1931.