AUGUST 11, 1997
Ford to build its own engines?
FORD's head of automotive operations Jac Nasser indicated that the company would have to "go in a different direction" if there was what he called "outside disruption" at Cosworth Engineering. There have been strong rumors in recent weeks that Vickers PLC, which owns Cosworth, may be willing to sell the company to finance the acquisition of new companies to move Vickers away from its traditional core activities and into new and more profitable industries. The rumors had suggested that Cosworth would be sold to BMW. There have also been rumors in financial circles that the engineering company GKN may be bidding for some of the Vickers arms businesses, notably the production of tanks.
Vickers chief executive Chris Woodwark was in Hungary and denied that there are any plans to sell off parts of the Vickers empire but this did not calm the rumors.
It is not the first time that Ford has considered doing its own F1 engines. Exactly a year ago there were similar rumors in Budapest with the Ford-Cosworth relationship at such a low point that there was talk of Ford establishing its own engine design facility in Milton Keynes, close to the Stewart factory. With the kind of resources available to Ford - financial, technological and human - this could easily be achieved in time for the 1999 season.
In recent months Ford has been studying the way in which rival corporations approach the sport and it seems that the conclusions are that motorsport is very useful for train young engineers to react quickly, to advertise products (Ford has just started advertising its new road cars on the Stewart F1 cars) and motivating the workforce. All these aims would be greatly enhanced by an in-house engine program to ensure the highest quality of engines and the correct motivation.
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