Black clouds have been hanging over Ford Almussafes for some time. Between a collective agreement to renegotiate and a microchip crisis that does not lead the factory to multiply ERTEs, the huge Ford factory needs a new successful model to build. Its future as a production center depends on it.
Ford’s strategy in Europe, like that of almost all manufacturers (they have no other choice), goes through the electric car. And therefore Ford Almussafes needs to build an electric car, but above all it needs one that sells as well as the Ford Mustang Mach-E does, a model with which Ford cannot cope with the demand.
This Monday, the representatives of the workers and the management of the plant met to discuss the electrification strategy of the factory, which currently has no electrical model assigned for the coming years. What’s more, the vast majority of the models it currently produces are not exactly bestsellers.
Ford Almussafes vs Ford Saarlouis
In a context in which Ford does not hesitate to close its activity completely from one day to the next, as it was the case in India, and with the recent closure of Nissan in Barcelona, it is normal for everyone to worry.
In Germany, in order to compete with Almussafes and the lower wage costs, the German Chambers of Industry and Commerce have asked the authorities of the Saarland region to reduce business tax.
The cost of labor in industry in Spain is 22.8 euros per hour, on average, and 36.6 euros per hour in Germany (Eurostat data). And labor, both from the manufacturer and its suppliers, can account for up to 39% of the total cost of producing a car. Still, Ford asks salary cuts to the Almussafes staff.
To try to tip the balance on the Spanish side, the city council of Almussafes, for its part, offers 750,000 square meters of industrial land for the implantation of a battery factory.
The final decision on which factory produces which car will be announced by the company in June this year. In the meantime, everyone is going to fight to get those electric cars awarded to him.
Ford Almussafes has a production overcapacity
Ford owns four car factories. Two in Germany, Cologne and Saarlouis, one in Spain, Almussafes, and another in Craiova, Romania. Almussafes has a workforce of more than 6,000 people and has to compete with the Saarlouis factory.
This factory currently produces the Ford Fiesta and it has a somewhat lower production capacity than the Valencian plant. Ultimately, both factories are equally in need of a new model. And Ford plans to build two electric cars on European soil.
The Ford Kuga, especially in its plug-in hybrid version, and the Ford Transit Connect are two models made in Almussafes that sell very well. However, the rest of the production are models with a declining market presence, namely the Ford Mondeo and the two minivans Ford S-Max y Ford Galaxy.
The current Ford Mondeo has been on the market since 2014 and the sedan segment remains in Europe mainly thanks to the German premium trio and the Skoda Octavia. The sedans represent less than 6% of the European market. The same occurs with minivans, a type of car whose market share in Europe is around 7%.
In fact, Almussafes will have manufactured in 2021 around 4,000 Ford Galaxy, just over 5,000 Ford S-Max and a little over 10,000 Ford Mondeo. Some figures to compare to the more than 53,000 units of the Tourneo Connect and the 83,000 Kuga units.
In total in 2021, Ford Almussafes produced fewer than 165,000 cars, the lowest level since 2012 and lower than in 1977 (the factory opened in 1976). And that in a factory that has the capacity to manufacture up to 450,000 cars a year. That is to say, Almussafes is operating at only 36% of its capacity. And that in the medium and long term is a serious problem.
In Motorpasión | We tested the 351 hp Ford Mustang Mach-E: a fast electric SUV with good autonomy but with some points for improvement | We tested the Ford Kuga Hybrid: the plugless hybrid SUV that will make you ditch diesel