September 19, 2014 / 8:24 AM / 3 years ago

Ford to cut production at Cologne as European demand cools

The company logo is seen on the bonnet of a Ford car during the media day ahead of the 84th Geneva Motor Show at the Palexpo Arena in Geneva March 5, 2014. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

BERLIN (Reuters) - Ford (F.N) is to cut production of its top-selling European car in the fourth quarter because of slowing demand in some of the region’s key markets, it said on Friday.

The U.S. carmaker will halt assembly of its Fiesta hatchback at Cologne in Germany, its main European plant, on a total of 11 days in October and November, citing “lower demand” in the second half of the year.

Passenger car sales across Europe edged up 1.8 percent in August to 701,118 vehicles but demand fell in Germany, France and Italy - three of the region’s top four markets - raising concern among some analysts that momentum is slowing.

Ford said it will apply for subsidies under the German government’s “Kurzarbeit” short-work program, affecting about 4,000 workers at Cologne. The plant employs 17,300.

The scheme was used by many struggling companies in the 2008-09 recession, allowing them to preserve jobs by reducing employees’ hours when plant usage was low, with the government compensating workers for part of their lost wages.

Reporting by Andreas Cremer; Editing by David Goodman

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