By Daniel Hunter

Ford Motor Company today (Wednesday) announced a proposal to restructure its Europe manufacturing operations as part of its comprehensive plan to respond to structural market changes and deliver profitable growth in the region.

Ford announced its plans to end production at a major production plant in Genk, Belgium, by the end of 2014, pending the outcome of a consultation process with employee representatives. If the plan is confirmed, Ford would resource several vehicles to more fully utilise its European plants.

The plan would help to address manufacturing overcapacity stemming from a more than 20 percent drop in total industry vehicle demand in Western Europe since 2007. New vehicle sales in the region have reached a nearly 20-year low this year and are expected to remain flat or fall further next year.

“The proposed restructuring of our European manufacturing operations is a fundamental part of our plan to strengthen Ford’s business in Europe and to return to profitable growth,” said Stephen Odell, chairman and CEO, Ford of Europe.

“We understand the impact this potential action would have on our work force in Genk, their families, our suppliers and the local communities. We fully recognise and accept our social responsibilities in this difficult situation and, if the restructuring plan is confirmed, we will ensure that we put in place measures and support to lessen the impact for all employees affected,” Odell said.

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