It was only a few weeks ago that Ford Motor Co. launched the B-Max model but the automaker has already decided to terminate a shift at the Romanian plant that builds the small minivan. Ford will provide buyouts to several hourly workers at the plant in Craiova under what it refers to as a "limited voluntary separation program."
The factory, which is located 260km west of Bucharest, has about 3,600 workers, with most of them having been in service for over four years. A Ford spokesman said last Friday that talks with unions are ongoing. The Craiova plant will run on a single shift as Ford aims to exceed slow sales in Europe. Last month, Ford launched sales of the B-Max. The model is built on the same platform as the Fiesta subcompact.
It is also the replacement for the Europe-only Fusion minivan. Auto sales in Europe have fallen this year as economic weakness drives down consumer confidence. Ford estimates a loss of at least $3 billion in Europe over the next couple of years. According to the industry organization ACEA, Ford sales in the EU and EFTA countries for the first 10 months of 2012 decreased by 12.4% to 786,989 while the total market is down 7.3% to 10.3 million.
Ford’s market share in the region declined from 8% to 7.6%. Ford said that about 500 employees at the assembly plant will be moved to the Craiova engine plant. From just one shift, engine production will be increased to two shifts to cope with demand for Ford's 1.0-liter turbocharged engine and the impending launch of a new 1.5-liter engine. In 2008, Ford acquired the Craiova factory, a former Daewoo manufacturing plant. It paid 57 million euros to buy the Romanian government's 72.4% stake in the plant.