Ford is to pull out of car production in Portugal at the end of the year, according to the company. The bombshell was dropped last week by the US company’s Portuguese regional president for Ford Lusitania, Diogo Rezende.
This means that Ford’s contribution to Portugal’s main car plant, Autoeuropa, in Palmela, outside Setúbal, is at an end as the car giant moves its operations to Genk in Belgium to cut costs. Ford produced the spacious family saloon Galaxy at Autoeuropa, alongside Volkswagen with the Sharan, and Seat which manufactured the Alhambra.
Rezende said that the new generation of Ford Galaxies will be produced in Belgium after the company had been studying the feasibility of extending the contract between Ford and Autoeuropa until 2006. He guaranteed that the move would not result in Ford laying off staff because the company “only has Portuguese workers involved in product development and they will be kept on”.
In 2004, Ford produced 23.5 per cent of Autoeuropa’s total production, with 35,497 vehicles. The total number of vehicles produced at Autoeuropa by the three companies in the same year was 95,660, or 63.4 per cent of the total car production in Portugal.
Volkswagen will continue its presence at Autoeuropa for the foreseeable future, with the manufacture of its new Concept C.
Autoeuropa was a project initiated in 1995 by the Ministry of Work and Economic Activities with an investment of 1,282 million euros. A total manufacturing capacity of 180,000 vehicles is possible on the 1,100,000sqm site, using a workforce of 3,100 in three shifts.
However, after Autoeuropa celebrated its 1,000,000 vehicle off the assembly line in 1999, production has dropped from 136,758 units in 2001, 130,007 units in 2002, 109,647 units in 2003 to around 95,000 last year.
The new Galaxy will most likely be based on a next generation Mondeo-like platform and could be called the Galaxy E-Max, but there is little information posted about the new improved model on the company’s website.