Ford in talks to build electric transmissions at Halewood plant in boost for UK car industry

Ford Motor Company is nearing a decision to build a new generation of electric transmission systems at its Halewood plant on Merseyside, a move that would herald positive news for the British automotive industry.

Sky News has learnt that the Michigan-based car giant is expected to deliver its verdict within weeks about whether to commit substantial investment to the UK site as it shifts to all-electric vehicle production by 2030.

Industry sources said on Thursday that Ford was in talks with officials at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) about the proposals to build a new eTrans system at Halewood.

The British plant is vying with Ford’s other European transmission production facility, in Germany, for the investment, according to insiders.

Ford would be expected to commit funding running to hundreds of millions of pounds to develop the new eTrans production site, they added.

It is unclear whether Ford is seeking any government subsidies or other support to secure the investment for the UK.

The Halewood site is understood to employ just over 500 people, with those jobs likely to be secured over the long term if the investment decision goes in its favour.

Etrans systems are an essential part of electric vehicles, which will increasingly dominate global automotive production in the coming years.

Ford took full control of Halewood earlier this year after having operated it as a joint venture with Getrag, a German company.

The impending decision will be the latest in a string of production shifts affecting the UK car industry as the sector accelerates an inexorable transition to all-electric and hybrid vehicle production.

In July, Stellantis, the owner of car marques such as Peugeot and Vauxhall, unveiled plans to invest £100m in electric van production at Ellesmere Port in the north-west of England.

That came just days after Nissan, the Japanese carmaker, said that it would spend £1bn on an electric model and battery plant at its site in Sunderland.

Those decisions brought welcome relief to an industry which has faced years of uncertainty encapsulated most notably by the closure of Honda’s Swindon plant earlier this year.

A number of gigafactories are also under discussion between ministers and automotive groups.

The Financial Times reported earlier this year that six companies were involved in such negotiations, including Britishvolt, Ford and Samsung.

Sky News revealed in July that Rivian, an electric vehicle company which counts Ford and Amazon among its investors, was talking to the UK government about building a giant production facility near Bristol.

The sector nevertheless continues to be buffeted by headwinds triggered by the ongoing crisis in the global supply of semiconductors.

Hundreds of jobs are reportedly under threat at Vauxhall’s Luton van plant, with the Unite union pledging this week to seek to mitigate proposed redundancies.

In total across Europe, Ford employs roughly 43,000 people, including 7,000 in the UK.

The company said in February that that by mid-2026, all of its passenger vehicles in Europe would be “zero-emissions capable, all-electric or plug-in hybrid, and will be completely all-electric by 2030.

“Similarly, Ford’s entire commercial vehicle range will be zero-emissions capable, all-electric or plug-in hybrid, by 2024, with two-thirds of Ford’s commercial vehicle sales expected to be all-electric or plug-in hybrid by 2030.”

A Ford spokesman said on Thursday: “Ford is going ‘all-in’ on electrification, with 100% of our passenger vehicles being all-electric and two-thirds of our commercial vehicle sales expected to be all-electric or plug-in hybrid by 2030.

“We will provide more details about the actions we are taking to strengthen further our electrification plans across Europe at the appropriate time but have nothing further to add today.”

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