Once a global stalwart of financial and political power, the auto world has been turned upside down in recent years. The industry has seen shifts in everything from the way vehicles are used to how they’re sold, shuffling the industry’s once-stacked deck.
Perhaps no one manufacturer represents this bumpy ride better than Ford: The year has barely rubbed the sleep from its eyes and the original American automaker has already brought forth news unexpected, exciting, and tragic.
The company kicked off its 2019 with an announcement that sent serious ripples across the pond. Representatives said that “thousands” of jobs would be cut from Ford’s European factories, where more than 68,000 workers are employed.
While few specifics on the layoffs were offered, Ford officials said the losses would impact all departments across the continent and could stem from any number of streamlining efforts, including consolidating its headquarters in Britain, suspending production of several minivan models made in Germany, and reviewing a joint venture it currently runs in Russia. A transmission factory Ford operates in Bordeaux, France will also be closed.
The move may not have been so surprising to those who follow the market: Ford had a rough go of it in 2018, finishing the year down 3.5%—the worst showing by far of an overall-shaky Big Three.
Still, whether by stroke of luck or marketing genius, that news was shortly chased by a pick-me-up story for the company—though this one was likely less expected than the attempt to slim down its ranks in Europe.
The partnership—which was described as a “broad alliance”—will consist of the companies co-manufacturing and collaborating on several vehicles, including a mid-size pickup truck, a fleet of commercial vans, and more autonomous and electric cars.
Neither corporation will “take ownership” of the other, with the conglomerate ruled by a board of trustees consisting of an equal number of representatives from each company. And it’s been noted that companies fit like so many puzzle pieces. Similar approaches to electric vehicles yet different strongholds in the global market could make for a strong alliance.
But with countless more news cycles left in 2019, there’s still a long road ahead for Ford—and no telling how much bumpier things may get.