Ford has become the latest automaker to close one of its European assembly plants. The facility in question is located in the Belgian city of Genk and has been in operation since the early ’60s when it started building the Taunus, Ford’s first mass-produced, front-drive model.
As part of the plan first announced over two years ago, the Genk Body & Assembly Plant is now closing its doors after half a century in the business and over fourteen million vehicles built. Although the plant itself employed some 5,000 workers, once you take into account the suppliers built up around the plant, the overall impact on employment in the area edges closer to 12,000.
Genk Body & Assembly had until recently been tasked with producing the Mondeo sedan (which in its current iteration we know as the Fusion) as well as the S-Max and Galaxy minivans. Production of the Mondeo shifted in 2013 to the company’s plant in Valencia, Spain, which also handles the Kuga crossover and Transit Connect cargo van, and will soon take over the minivans from Genk as well.
The move follows a similar decision undertaken by General Motors to close the Opelwerk plant in Bochum, Germany. It also reflects a scaling down of automobile production in Belgium specifically: although Audi still manufacturers in Brussels and and Volvo in Ghent, Opel closed its plant in Antwerp in 2000 and Renault ceased production in Vilvoorde back in ’97. However Ford still maintains its famous proving ground half an hour to the north in Lommel, Belgium.