U.S. automaker Ford said Thursday it will accelerate its European restructuring process, outlining plans to shut down three facilities and cut jobs.
In a statement from its European headquarters in Cologne, Germany, Ford said its new strategy will focus on new products, a strong brand and increased cost efficiencies "to achieve profitable growth in its European operations."
The new restructuring measures include the planned closure in 2013 of two factories in England - an assembly plant in Southampton and stamping and tooling operations in Dagenham.
Ford also plans to cease production at an assembly plant in Genk, Belgium, by the end of 2014, "pending confirmation following completion of a consultation process" with the unions.
Those three facilities currently employ 5,700 people, it said.
The U.S.-based giant said those planned actions would reduce installed vehicle assembly capacity - excluding Russia - by 18 percent, or 355,000 units, leading to gross annual savings of up to $500 million.
The auto manufacturer also said it will look to "drive revenue and margin improvement" by introducing 15 global vehicles in Europe within five years.
Those models will include the new Ford Fiesta, to be launched in Germany in January. That vehicle will be redesigned with new technology offerings and feature greater fuel efficiency and lower emissions.
Ford, which said the losses from its European operations will exceed $1.5 billion in 2012, said it expects to turn a profit in that region by 2015 and achieve a long-term operating margin of between 6 percent and 8 percent.
The company said vehicle demand in Western Europe has plunged by more than 20 percent since 2007 amid the eurozone financial crisis, a scenario that has resulted in manufacturing overcapacity. EFE