Government stimulus needed to jump-start UK car industry, says Ford

Published 18 May 2020

The UK car industry needs financial stimulus from the Government if it is to survive the coronavirus outbreak, Ford has warned.

Ford restarted production at its Dagenham diesel engine plant in Essex today (18 May) but has said the UK car industry faces a bleak future without Government aid. 

The car industry directly employs 170,000 people in the UK, while a further 823,000 jobs are supported across the wider automotive sector.

In an interview with ITV News, managing director of Ford of Britain Andy Barratt said: "It’s Ford's view that it is necessary we have stimulus in the market to help customers come back with confidence. 

"That may be a scrappage scheme or something similar but without a doubt some sort of stimulus is really needed to get the car business moving in the UK. 

"Without any degree of stimulus, there is no doubt we can’t keep the factories running on the UK demand levels as they are."

Ford is already in the process of ending production at its Bridgend engine plant in South Wales in order to restructure its UK operations and save money. Bridgend has built more than 20 million engines since it first opened its doors in 1977, but it is due to close permanently in September with the loss of 1700 jobs.

The number of new cars sold in the UK has plunged to the lowest level since 1946. Just 4321 new cars were sold in April, representing a drop of 97.3 per cent compared to the same period last year.  

In 2009 the Government provided £300 million for a nationwide scrappage scheme, with buyers getting up to £2000 off the price of a new car when they traded-in their old one. 

Comments

hissingsid    on 18 May 2020

Ford have not manufactured cars in the UK since 2002. Instead of asking for government help, perhaps they should go back to their roots and produce the no frills reasonably priced cars on which their global success was built.
Today they are just like the rest, loaded with expensive complicated "tech" which few owners really want or need, but "tech" keep prices and repair costs high.

BrendanP    on 18 May 2020

I'm not sure I'd want to go back to cars that don't have power steering, ABS, ESP, air-con, airbags, fuel-injection

hissingsid    on 19 May 2020

I'm not sure I'd want to go back to cars that don't have power steering, ABS, ESP, air-con, airbags, fuel-injection

Neither would I. My concern is about unnecessary "tech" such as automatic lights and wipers, electronic parking brakes and complicated infotainment systems using touchscreen menus which are dangerous to operate whilst driving. The success of Dacia proves that there is a demand for no nonsense low tech cars.

   on 18 May 2020

I think we have enough financial issues in this country without supporting the German car industry which is where most of the money will end up.

GTD 184    on 18 May 2020

If the government want to do something to stimulate new car purchases they want to look at reducing the VAT and tax burden........NOT kids play scrappage schemes!

NickNike    on 18 May 2020

Well said

999pez    on 18 May 2020

It's a bit rich of Ford to expect the UK government to help them out when they've all but pulled out of the UK.
I would have thought there would be plenty of pent up demand and people will be rushing to dealers once they are allowed.
I really don't think we need another scrappage scheme or similar.

Jayman    on 19 May 2020

What a joke. What production in the UK? Bridgend is to close Sept 2020 and Dagenham make diesel engines that they're trying to phase out. Ford will be out of the UK within 10yrs probably less. Looking for short term help off the government to give them a sales injection. They sell more vehicles in the UK than the whole of Europe yet still want to take their production out of the UK. Loyalty hey?. If the government does create a scrappage scheme make Ford sign up to written assurances to committ to the UK for 10yrs atleast with financial penalties if not abiding. A tactic they employ to some of their suppliers. Also it would stop them using their rabbit out the hat excuse of GLOBAL DEMAND has forced us to restructure the business at the cost of UK jobs. Former Head of Ford Europe Steve Armstrong has already confirmed when asked if they could invest in electrification in the UK. His response was the problem with the batteries required for electric vehicles were very heavy and it would only make sense logistically if the battery plant was next to the vehicle assembly plant. Ford assembles ALL of its vehicles outside of the UK. So in a nutshell thats a NO. Make Ford agree to punishable commitments before any government help to protect UK vehicle manufacturing.

Edited by Jayman on 19/05/2020 at 21:36

NickNike    on 18 May 2020

It might help if we ran our car infrastructure like the Americans. No VED, car price about two thirds UK prices and petrol a third the price. And stop all this pandering to the lefty climate brigade that is pumpimp up costs to help break our capitalist system. Screw the car industry. They and the government have screwed us for long enough.

Falkirk Bairn    on 19 May 2020

Buy a British assembled car -

some Nissans,
Honda Civic,
Toyota Corolla,
most Jaguar Land Rovers
Morgan
Bentley
Rolls Royce
McLaren
some Vauxhall Astras
London Taxis
Lotus?

gavsmit    on 20 May 2020

They, like all car manufacturers, need to review their extortionate pricing in order to generate more consumer interest.

At this point I usually quote a supermini like the entry-level Peugeot 208 costing a ludicrous £16,000, but that was launched a little while ago so other entry level superminis that have launched since have raised the bar ridiculously further since - anyone for an entry-level Honda Jazz for £19,000?

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