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Auto blogThu, 21 Mar 2013 10:15:00 EST
According to a report from Reuters, Ford is shelling out $750 million in a severance deal that will see the automaker close its facility in Genk, Belgium. The automaker reached this deal with the 4,000 hourly workers employed at the plant last week, which means the company will pay out an average of $187,500 per worker.
Ford is still negotiating with the 300 salaried workers at the factory, which currently produces the Mondeo sedan. All told, Ford expects to lose around $2 billion in Europe thanks in no small part to the region's ongoing economic downturn, and two more plants are scheduled to be shut down in Europe this year. The company will log its $750 million payout under "special items" for this quarter.
As you may recall, Ford took a similar path in the US back in 2009 when the domestic market took a spill. Back then, the company shelled out around $50,000 per employee with at least one year of experience, plus either $25,000 toward a new car or an extra cash payment of $20,000. It would seem the cost of closing plants in Belgium is a much harder pill to swallow than in the States...
The 2014 Ford Fiesta ST doesn't go on sale until this summer, but fans of Global RallyCross will be able to catch the car in action before then. Announced ahead of the Chicago Auto Show, the Fiesta ST will be the car run by Ford GRC teams this season, and the model on display in Chicago will be the racecar built by Swedish tuner OlsbergsMSE driven by Tanner Foust and Brian Deegan. Ken Block and his newly renamed Hoonigan Racing Division will also be competing in the Fiesta ST.
The 2013 GRC season has not been announced yet, but the venues will also include the summer X Games events in Brazil, Spain, Germany and, of course, Los Angeles. Ford announced that it will be the sole automotive sponsor of this year's summer X Games, and it will be looking to bring home a gold medal this year after Block placed silver last year.
In other Ken Block- and Ford-related news, another Chicago debut will be a tuned Focus ST called the TrackSTer project. Built in cooperation with Block, Ford and automotive tuner fifteen52, the TrackSTer will get plenty of styling, performance and handling upgrades. Some of the add-ons include a performance exhaust and short-throw shifter from Ford Racing, a rebuilt engine, upgraded components such as the limited-slip differential, intercooler, engine controller and clutch as well as upgraded brakes.
We have the privilege here at Autoblog of reporting a lot of good news, but it is our duty as well to report the bad news and sad news as well. And this is one of those occasions as the automotive industry mourns the passing of one of its leaders.
Nick Scheele was born in the UK in 1944 and joined the Ford Motor Company upon graduating from the University of Durham in 1966, staying within the Blue Oval's portfolio for the entirety of his career. After moving to North America in 1978, he rose through the ranks to become president of Ford's Mexican operations in 1988. After acquiring Jaguar, Ford appointed Scheele as its chairman.
Scheele subsequently acted as chairman of all of Ford's European operations, making difficult decisions to take the division out of the red and into the black. He briefly headed up Ford's North American division before he was appointed in 2001 as president and chief operating officer of the global automaker, working under CEO Bill Ford following the departure of Jacques Nasser departure and retaining the role until his retirement in 2005.