Ford of Britain boss Tim Slatter discussed Halewood upgrade with Autocar
Factory on Merseyside will manufacture electric drive units for 70% of the brand’s European EVs
Ford announced today it will invest an additional £150 million in its Halewood factory as it scales up the plant’s involvement in its European electrification strategy.
From 2026, Halewood will supply 420,000 motors for Europe-bound EVs annually – almost double the previously planned figure of 250,000.
Autocar caught up with Ford of Britain chairman Tim Slatter following the news.
How big a deal is this announcement in the Ford EV world?
‘We’d say it’s a really big deal, not just for the UK but globally. As you’ve heard, 70% of the motors we’ll fit to our European EVs by 2026 will be made here, but we’ve made sure what is done in Dagenham mirrors the work we’re doing at Vandyke in Michigan [the US] so that we both meet Ford global standards.”
Why choose Halewood?
“It was an easy decision. They have the capacity, because the demand for the manual gearboxes that have been made here will naturally decline. Best of all, they have the fundamental skills we need: they’re used to doing heat treatment and gear machining, and both are fundamentals. It’s a natural fit.”
How would you characterise the motors that Ford will make here?
“There’s a range of motors, but I’d describe them as an intermediate range, capable of working in a single application or doubling up in four-wheel-drive models. There will ultimately be heavier-duty powertrain units in our EV range, but we’re still deciding about what they will be and where they will be sourced.”
What does this news mean for Dagenham?
“Dagenham continues to make half a million clean diesels [engines] a year for us, and we’re confident that role will be important for many years to come. Longer term, we will work on ways to integrate its activities into our overall plan. But Dagenham is uniquely located: it has a jetty and it’s a freeport. There’s a railhead, too, and it sits at the eastern gateway to London, a megacity. Most of the cars we sell in the UK flow through there, so It’s enormously important to Ford, logistically speaking, and it will stay that way.”
Will the batteries that power the Halewood motors be made by your Turkish joint-venture company?
“The significance of this deal is that we see it as the best way to balance our supply of materials and components, which will lead to a good availability of batteries. We’re a market leader; we don’t want to be one of a group of clients all trying to deal with one dealing with one supplier. We need a high degree of certainty.”