UK - The OEM has started production of its new three-cylinder 1.5-litre EcoBoost petrol engines at the Bridgend plant in South Wales. This follows on from an investment of £100m (US$128m) in the facility.

“I’m personally very proud to see production start of this all-new engine, here in Bridgend,” commented Wallace Yearwood, plant manager at Bridgend. “It’s the result of a significant investment in the plant, a plant which has a long-established history of delivering world-class engines, and we will make this engine another success.”

The engine was designed by engineers at the Ford Dunton Technical Centre in Essex, the Technical Centre in Merkenich, Germany, and the Research and Innovation Centre in Aachen, Germany. It will debut in the new Fiesta ST and the all-new Focus.

News of the new engine production comes at the same time as a report from the BBC detailing a five-day shutdown at the Bridgend plant. It suggests that this is directly linked to a two-week closure at the Jaguar Land Rover plant in Solihull, which receives six- and eight-cylinder petrol engines from Ford’s Bridgend plant. In September 2017, questions were raised regarding the future of the Bridgend plant when JLR revealed it was terminating the engine contract with Ford three months earlier than originally planned.

JLR has also closed its Castle Bromwich plant for a week, referring to the uncertainty of Brexit as the primary factor. CEO Ralf Speth has suggested that a “hard Brexit will cost Jaguar Land Rover more than £1.2bn a year - it’s horrifying, wiping our profit, destroying investment…”

Similarly, Steven Armstrong, Ford’s group vice president and president of Europe, Middle East and Africa, told the BBC that a no-deal Brexit would “force us to have to think about what our future strategy for the UK would be.”