Saarlouis – It’s decision day. A decision that is also important for the future of Saarland as an automotive region: will the Ford plant in Saarlouis be awarded the contract to build the electric car or will it lose out to Valencia in Spain?
At a works meeting this Wednesday, around 5,000 employees are to be informed of how Ford Europe boss Stuart Rowley (55) has decided.
The end of the nail-biter with a good outcome for Saarland? Or a black day?
Saar Economics Minister Jürgen Barke (59, SPD) was recently optimistic: “In our opinion, the Saarlouis plant is clearly ahead.”
But he also said: “Should it turn out that Ford nevertheless decides to invest in Valencia, it will be definitive proof that the whole process was just a farce to justify a decision that was made.”
According to the “Saarbrücker Zeitung”, the former CDU/SPD state government put together a EUR 500 million package shortly before the state elections to make Saarland attractive to Ford.
For Saarlouis Mayor Peter Demmer (62, SPD), the end of the Saarlouis Ford plant would be “an absolute disaster, not just for the city of Saarlouis, but for the entire region”. And: “Countless families are directly or indirectly employed in the Ford plant. If they lose this, the consequences for all of us are incalculable – economically, humanly and emotionally.”
Dillinger Mayor Franz-Josef Berg (65, CDU) also warns: “The jobs at Ford and associated companies are vital for our industrial country. Even after 2025 we need full automotive production in Saarlouis.”
Fears about the future among employees!
Oliver Wagner (37): “Everyone has a family and house and hopes that we can continue to work here.” Gian-Luca Mancarella (27) doesn’t mince his words: “The situation just sucks! I just recently bought a house and became a father.”
Doreen Müller (39) has been working at Ford for 20 years: “The mood has never been as bad as it is now.” Katharina Pusse (32): “I would love to continue working here because the people are so great.” And Tobias Krieger (26) says: “Hope is known to die last…”
The Dillinger kebab seller Adil Payam also hopes that things will continue in Saarlouis after 2025. Because until then the Focus will be built there. The 35-year-old: “It would be a great loss for us. We deliver directly to the factory several times a week. Employees also come to eat with us regularly.”
The Saarlouis works council has so far kept a low profile as to whether it has already leaked out how the Ford headquarters in Dearborn/USA decided. IG Metall has invited to a press conference for Wednesday afternoon.
No information from Ford’s main plant in Cologne either. A spokesman on Tuesday when asked by BILD: “We are currently in an internal decision-making process that has not yet been finally completed. As soon as a decision has been made, we will announce this and of course inform you.”
Regardless of the decision as to which Ford plant will build the electric car in the future, around 800 jobs are already shaky in Saarlouis: It was not until the beginning of June that the employees were informed that production was to be reduced by 15% after the plant holidays.
The history of Ford in Saarlouis
The Ford plant in Saarlouis is a milestone in the history of the Saarland towards an automotive region.
► Construction of the plant begins in 1966 on the site of the former Röderberg airfield.
► The Federal Chancellor at the time, Ludwig Erhard, campaigned for the location on the Ford board of Cologne, so that the region – shaken by the coal and steel crisis – experienced an economic upswing. Laying of the foundation stone in September.
► Production begins in 1968 – 700 employees initially manufacture body parts for other Ford plants.
► On October 20, 1969, the first Ford Escort body shell was created. On January 16, 1970 the first Ford Escort. There are already 2000 employees there. The factory was officially inaugurated on June 11, 1970 by Henry Ford II, grandson of the company founder.
► From 1971-1975, the plant produced almost 150,000 units of the Ford Capri (everyday sports car) in addition to the Escort. In 1976 the first Ford Fiesta (small car) rolled off the production line, in 1980 the two millionth. At times 6500 employees were employed here.
► 1998 the Ford Focus replaces the Escort. In 1999 the Focus was voted Europe’s “Car of the Year”, the best-selling car in the world. 2008-2012 330 000 Ford Kuga (SUV) come from Saarlouis.
► To date, more than 15 million Ford models have left the factory.
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