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FORD’S European division is looking to reduce labor costs over the next few years as the brand embarks on a “comprehensive transformation strategy aimed at strengthening the Ford brand and creating a sustainably profitable business” across the continent.

Though the Blue Oval brand did not confirm the number of job cuts to its European operations, Ford indicated the possibility of plant closures to the Financial Times newspaper.

The majority of Ford Europe’s 54,000 workers are based in the UK, Germany and Spain.

Ford Motor Company CEO Jim Hackett started an $A18 billion restructuring program last year aimed at containing losses in Europe and China while boosting investment in EVs and autonomous vehicles.

Ford also abandoned a goal of reaching an eight per cent profit margin by 2020. The company has already made significant changes to its global operations, including ending further development of its sedan range in the US and bringing some of its Chinese production back to the US and Mexico.

It has also ceased operations at a gearbox factory in France, plans to close a van production factory in Germany with the loss of 1140 jobs and review the future of a car plant in Russia.

In Europe, Ford said Brexit had created a challenge for its UK operations.

Ford of Europe head Steven Armstrong, said in a report with the Financial Times that “there will be significant impact across the region”.

“This isn’t a one or two-year issue,” he said. “We have had periods of profitability but not on the level it should be.”

Ford Europe posted a $A340 million loss in the third quarter of 2018, up from a loss of $A265 million in the corresponding period of 2017.

“We are taking decisive action to transform the Ford business in Europe,” Mr Armstrong said in a statement.

“We will invest in the vehicles, services, segments and markets that best support a long-term sustainably profitable business, creating value for all our stakeholders and delivering emotive vehicles to our customers.”

The brand will also look at importing another SUV into Europe to bolster its EcoSport, Kuga (Escape), Edge (Endura) crossover line-up, which could be the recently revealed new-generation Explorer or heavily Aussie-flavoured Ranger-based Everest.

By Neil Dowling

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