Jaguar Land Rover has confirmed it will end a contract to produce petrol engines at Ford's Bridgend plant in Wales sooner than expected, potentially placing hundreds of jobs in jeopardy.
On Thursday (28 September), the luxury car maker said it had decided to terminate its contract with Ford "slightly earlier than expected", indicating the deal will now run until September 2020 instead of until December 2020 as originally planned.
"Ford has been, and remains, an important strategic supplier to Jaguar Land Rover under an agreement which was negotiated to support our business until the end of the decade," JLR, Britain's largest car producer, said.
Approximately 145,000 of the 659,000 engines produced at Bridgend every year are destined for JLR, which is owned by industry giant Tata Motors.
The plant in Wales employs around 1,930 staff, half of whom work on JLR engines and while Ford stressed the decision will have no immediate impact on its workforce, it added it will have to asses the situation.
"While we do not discuss the details of our contractual arrangements, we have informed our unions that Jaguar Land Rover intends to end our petrol engine supply arrangement slightly earlier than expected in late 2020," said a spokesperson for the US car giant.
"Given our long-established and successful relationship in the delivery of world-class engines, this is disappointing news for the Ford Bridgend Engine Plant. However, as the auto industry is undergoing rapid change, we continue to look at other high technology opportunities for Bridgend in the future."
Earlier this year, the Unite union warned over 1,000 jobs could be at risk at Ford's operation in Wales and urged the car manufacturer to commit to a new investment plan.
The union said 1,160 jobs could go by 2021 at the Bridgend engine plant and called for Ford to commit to a five-year plan for the plant, warning that failure to provide commitments on new investment "will see the workforce move one step closer to strike action in defence of their jobs".
In September last year, Ford said investment would be scaled down from £181m to £100m, while the number of engines produced each year would fall to 125,000. The Welsh Government pledged to invest £15m on the project, on the basis 500 jobs would be safeguarded.