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Ford warns car production will leave UK without 'scrappage scheme or something similar'

The Ford factories at Dagenham and Bridgend have reopened.

Workers have unfurloughed and production lines re-started.

Both engine plants have been mothballed since March 23 so Monday morning represents the first steps back towards business as usual.

The Ford staff we spoke to at Dagenham told us were hesitant about returning but sounded relieved to be back.

”We have taken every opportunity to keep our people safe,” insisted the Managing Director of Ford of Britain, Andy Barratt.

“We invested in machinery to make our own PPE, so we are not taking demand elsewhere, we are taking temperatures before people come in, there’s a self-assessment on health, we have a global standard in every location and we are adhering to that."

  • Ford wants the government to do something to stimulate demand, says Joel Hills, otherwise there will not be the levels of demand for new cars that the UK saw before the coronavirus crisis

Production at Dagenham is running at around three-quarters of the level it did before the plant closed. Bridgend is almost back to full capacity, although the factory there is still scheduled to shut for good in September.

But Andy Barratt insists that Ford will not be able to return sustainably to pre-crisis levels of production unless its showroom network is able to reopen, and unless the government does something to stimulate demand for new cars.

“It’s Fords view that it is necessary we have stimulus in the market to help customers come back with confidence.

"That may be a scrappage scheme or something similar but without a doubt some sort of stimulus is really needed to get the car business moving in the UK,” Barratt told ITV News.

“Without any degree of stimulus, there is no doubt we can’t keep the factories running on the UK demand levels as they are.

"Other countries are bringing stimulus in, so manufacturing and production will move elsewhere.”

The UK’s car manufacturers are trying to sell new cars during a serious recession.

In the last downturn the government ran a scrappage scheme which appeared to successfully bring forward future car sales.

Ford is the first car-making to demand the same again.