Ford cutting thousands of jobs in Europe

Ford is cutting thousands of jobs, ending production of some models and closing a plant in Europe ahead of a possible alliance with market leader Volkswagen. CREDIT: Luke MacGregor/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Ford is cutting thousands of jobs, ending production of some models and closing a plant in Europe ahead of a possible alliance with market leader Volkswagen.

The US carmaker announced the changes on Thursday, framing the restructuring as part of a global overhaul that the company has said will cost $11 billion.

Ford (F) said it would end production of some unprofitable models and shift its strategy in difficult regional markets including Russia.

The carmaker said it would proceed with plans to close a transmissions plant in France, and it has started negotiations with unions about halting production of the C-Max compact car at a factory in Germany.

“We are taking decisive action to transform the Ford business in Europe,” Steven Armstrong, Ford’s president for Europe, Middle East and Africa, said in a statement.

The carmaker said in July that it would spend $11 billion over the next three to five years to reshape its business around the world.

Ford’s sales and profitability are strong in the United States, but the company is trailing competitors badly in China and continuing to struggle in Europe and Latin America.

In the first nine months of 2018, Ford reported European losses of $199 million, compared to a profit of $278 million in the same period of 2017. It has projected a loss for the region for 2018.

Analysts have speculated that Ford and Volkswagen (VLKAF), the world’s largest automaker and a dominant force in Europe, could team up as they seek to develop autonomous cars and other technology.

So far the only potential alliance Ford and Volkswagen have confirmed involves commercial vehicles.

But Ford Chief Financial Officer Bob Shanks told Bloomberg last year that the companies’ discussions are “broad” and not limited to any particular technology, product or geography.

Rival US automaker General Motors (GM) got out of Europe in 2017, when it sold its struggling European operations to PSA (PUGOY), the French maker of Peugeot and Citroen cars.

Ford has roughly 53,000 employees in Europe. It owns two engine plants in the United Kingdom, where Brexit threatens to disrupt auto industry supply chains and trade in cars across the region.

Jaguar Land Rover, Britain’s largest carmaker, announced Thursday that it would slash 4,500 jobs as part of an effort to cut costs.