Ford has announced that diesel engines for a new generation of its Transit van will be built at its factory in Dagenham.
The company says the move will help to safeguard jobs at the site, which currently employs 1,900 people.
The engines will be exported to Turkey, where the vans themselves will be assembled by Ford’s local joint venture company, Ford Otosan.
Last year, Ford closed its other major UK engine plant at Bridgend in Wales.
The Transit Custom is a medium-sized version of Ford’s well-known commercial workhorse. The company plans to launch a new version of it in 2023.
Ford Otosan, a joint venture between the American giant and Turkish company Koç Holding, will manufacture the new van at its plant in Kocaeli, in Northwestern Turkey.
Dagenham will build diesel engines for the new model – which will also be available as an electric van, as well as in various hybrid forms.
Although moves to electrify passenger cars are proceeding rapidly, Ford says it expects diesel to continue to play an important role in commercial vehicles for many years.
Demand from Ford Otosan, which will also build a similar-sized van on behalf of Volkswagen, is expected to account for up to 60% of Dagenham’s diesel engine production by 2025.
Ford said the trade agreement reached between Turkey and the UK in late 2020 was “extremely significant” for its business – pointing out that Ford and Ford Otosan together account for more than 10% of the trade volume between the two countries.
Ford closed its Bridgend plant last year, as part of a drastic overhaul of its European business.
The factory, which opened in 1977, was unable to obtain enough new work after two major engine programmes ended in 2019.
Five other factories in Europe were also shut, and some 10,000 workers were laid off.
Transit vans were once built at a plant near Southampton, but in 2013 the factory was closed and production was moved to Turkey, where Ford said production costs were much lower.
The International Trade Minister, Ranil Jayawardena, described Ford’s announcement as “great news for Ford and its 7,500 workers across the United Kingdom”.