At 1:16pm on October 1st, 1931, the first Ford manufactured in the UK rolled off the production line in Dagenham, at Ford’s brand-new global plant. Now, 90 years later, Ford is celebrating the achievements of the hundreds of thousands of people who have contributed to Ford Dagenham’s success, and looking towards its future.
Following in the tread of the first Ford AA truck built alongside the river Thames, nearly 11 million cars, trucks and tractors have been produced over 71 years of vehicle production. Placed bumper to bumper, these would stretch around the equator 10 times. The plant has also manufactured close to 50 million engines, a role it continues today, as it builds diesel engines for current models including the Focus, Kuga and Transit at an impressive rate.
“Still London’s largest manufacturing site, the fact that Ford Dagenham continues to be such an important part of our European manufacturing operations is testament to our employees’ involvement in the site’s past, present and future” said Kieran Cahill, vice president, Manufacturing Ford of Europe, speaking at an employee event at Ford Dagenham.
In March this year, Ford Dagenham was confirmed as the site that will manufacture the advanced diesel engines for the next generation of Ford Transit Custom, to be built by Ford Otosan in Kocaeli, Turkey from 2023. Ford’s next Ranger Pickup will also be built in Kocaeli, alongside the Volkswagen Amarok, and part of a Ford-Volkswagen alliance.
“The anticipated incremental engine volumes this creates is expected to help safeguard jobs at Ford Dagenham. By 2025, we anticipate that up to 60% of our entire diesel engine volume will be destined just for the one-tonne commercial vehicles being built by Ford Otosan,” said Martin Everitt, plant manager, Ford Dagenham. Ford Dagenham is also set to supply diesel engines for a new light commercial vehicle to be produced at Ford’s Craiova facility in Romania from 2023.
Alongside its impressive diesel engine manufacturing capabilities, Ford Dagenham is also home to Ford’s Transport Operations, responsible for the transport logistics of Ford components and vehicles around the UK, alongside functions including Information Technology.
“Engines, Cars, Trucks, Tractors & Ventilators. What immediately comes to mind when I think of the 90 years anniversary, are the generations of families that have contributed to making Dagenham such a fantastic facility and helping us arrive at this milestone. All of these people’s contributions over the years has been our true strength in Dagenham,” said Jason Brandon, Convenor, Dagenham Engine Plant.
“They have proven over and over again, both their versatility and their ability to rise to any challenge and when necessary, diversify into other areas of manufacturing. We can do anything in Dagenham and I’m sure, notwithstanding the ongoing challenges for the internal combustion engine in the near future, we can secure future Ford opportunities in manufacturing and alternative sectors and give more generations of Ford families the opportunity to work for this great Company,“ said Debbie Dempsey, Transport Operations Salaried Representative, Dagenham.
During 2020, Ford was part of the VentilatorChallengeUK consortium, manufacturing respiratory ventilators for the NHS. It transformed an empty warehouse into an ISO 9001-accredited ventilator sub-assembly manufacturing facility in three weeks – something that typically takes a year. Involving Ford and the local community, it was staffed with up to 500 people per day at the height of production.
Between 1931 and 2002, Dagenham was the production hub for some of the most iconic Ford vehicles for the ages, from the Model Y to the Anglia, Cortina, Sierra and Fiesta. It also became a powerhouse for engine production, and while Ford Dagenham will continue to be a mainly diesel engine production facility, Ford is also looking at other uses for its site on the banks of the Thames.
Announced in June this year, an alliance between Ford and Venari, the UK’s largest emergency service vehicle provider, will see an all-new ambulance built at Ford Dagenham. Based on the Ford Transit chassis cab and developed under the name ‘Project Siren’, the lightweight ambulance will be produced at a refreshed location on the site, overhauled to accommodate the necessary manufacturing requirements. Production is expected to begin in 2022 and create around 100 new jobs.
Ford and MS-RT, the partner that creates racy Ford vans and pick-ups, have also announced a new £4 million conversion facility at Ford Dagenham. Also coming online in 2022 and expected to bring more than 120 new employees to the site once fully operational, it will satisfy demand for MS-RT’s conversions both in the UK and in other European markets.