Ford celebrates 90 years at Dagenham

Just over 90 years ago, at 1:16pm on October 1, 1931, the first Ford vehicle rolled off the production line at what was then Ford’s newest global production facility, Ford Dagenham.

Nine decades later – with nearly 11 million cars, trucks and tractors built during 71 years of vehicle production which, if placed end to end, would stretch more than 400,000km or 10 times around the world, and close to 50 million engines produced to date – Dagenham continues to play a major role in Ford’s European operations, building the advanced technology diesel engines that power many of the vehicle maker’s passenger and commercial models.

“Today is about celebrating with our employees the enormous contribution they and their predecessors have made over many generations to the success of Ford Dagenham,” said Kieran Cahill, chairman, Ford Motor Company Limited and vice president, Manufacturing Ford of Europe, speaking at a Ford employee event at the plant.

“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.”

Ford Dagenham was confirmed in March of this year as the source of the latest advanced technology diesel engines for the next generation Ford Transit Custom range which will be built by Ford Otosan – Ford’s Turkish joint venture – in Kocaeli, Turkey, from early 2023. The next generation Volkswagen 1-tonne commercial vehicle also will be built in Kocaeli as part of the 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 1-tonne commercial vehicles being built by Ford Otosan,” said Martin Everitt, plant manager, at Dagenham.

Ford also announced earlier this year that the factory will supply the diesel engine for a new light commercial vehicle to be manufactured at its Craiova facility in Romania from 2023.

In addition to diesel engine manufacturing, Ford Dagenham is also home to the company’s transport operations which is responsible for the transport logistics of components and vehicles across the U.K., and to a number of other functions, including information technology.

Car making at ford circa 1935
Car making at Ford in Dagenham circa 1935

“What immediately comes to mind when I think of the 90 years anniversary, are the generations of families that have contributed to making this such a fantastic facility and helping us arrive at this milestone. All these people’s contributions over the years have 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.”

“It is awesome to look back at how Dagenham has diversified over the years, making varied world leading products.  All employees, past and present, should feel proud of what they have achieved.  Looking to the future we have all the right ingredients for success, the most important ingredient being our employees who are motivated and dedicated to taking Dagenham forward into the world of electrified vehicles,” said Debbie Dempsey, transport operations salaried representative, Dagenham.

From 1931 to 2002, Ford Dagenham built some of Ford’s most iconic European vehicles, from the Model Y to the Anglia, and the Zephyr to the Fiesta. Engine manufacturing also has been integral to Ford Dagenham since its earliest days, and while diesel engine production will remain the mainstay of Ford manufacturing operations at Dagenham in the years ahead, Ford also is looking at other opportunities across the Ford Dagenham site.

Announced in late June, the Ford Venari Alliance brings together Ford, the UK market leader in commercial vehicles and Venari, the UK’s largest emergency service vehicle provider, for plans to manufacture an all-new, lightweight front-line ambulance.


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