Ford is to shut two European assembly plants with the loss of almost 4,900 jobs – moves designed to help the company stem losses that could exceed £600m in 2012.
The company’s Transit Van plant is Southampton will shut up shop early next year while its plant in Genk, Belgium will be wound up by the end of 2014.
Ford also indicated it planned to close its stamping plant at Dagenham, Essex.
"The proposed restructuring of our European manufacturing operations is a fundamental part of our plan to strengthen Ford's business in Europe and to return to profitable growth," said Ford Europe chairman Stephen Odell in a statement.
Justin Bowden, from the GMB union, described the news as “devastating” and “bad news for UK manufacturing”.
"There will be a feeling of shock and anger,” he added. "Ford's track record in Britain is one of broken promises and factory closures."