Ford applies for German coronavirus state aid, report says

FRANKFURT — Ford has applied for 500 million euros ($581 million) of German loan guarantees aimed at helping domestic companies hit by the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, business daily Handelsblatt reported on Monday.

The automaker has two production locations in Germany. Ford builds the small Fiesta small hatchback in Cologne and the Focus compact hatchback in Saarlouis.

Ford wants the federal government to grant most of the loan guarantees while a smaller share is expected to come from German states, Handelsblatt said. Ford had no immediate comment.

Labor unions are worried about the future of the Saarlouis factory after the end of production of the Focus in 2024.

“We know the date September 2024, but nothing more,” said works council chairman Markus Thal told Automobilwoche, a sister publication of Automotive News Europe. The factory employs 5,300 people.

While Germany has given coronavirus-related aid to companies such as auto parts supplier Leoni, Ford would be the first major automaker in the country to receive such help from the government.

Before the coronavirus pandemic hit automakers, Ford was planning to eliminate about 20 percent of the workforce across its European operations.

The automaker has struggled in the region’s crowded and mature market for years and it has been particularly hard hit by falling car sales in the U.K. because of the uncertainty surrounding the country’s exit from the European Union.

Ford’s passenger car sales in the EU, EFTA and U.K. fell 38 percent to 401,722 in a market down 33 percent through August, according to data from industry association ACEA.

Automotive News Europe contributed to this report

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