LONDON -- Ford Motor Co. faces a turning point this week on whether to close its venerable Land Rover plant in Solihull, England.
Mark Fields, Ford's top European executive, will meet with a joint worker-management committee Wednesday, Sept. 8, to hear a revised version of a "road map" for the future of the plant.
Fields rejected a version delivered Tuesday, Aug. 31. He asked the committee to return with a revised proposal.
Sources say Fields requested further improvements in three key areas: operational processes, work practices and the factory's culture.
The joint committee has been working on the plan since June as Ford Motor struggles to make its money-losing Jaguar-Land Rover unit more competitive.
"There can be no half measures, and given what is at stake, I have given the team one more week to complete their task," Fields said in a statement. "We are talking about the future of the plant, and the team has got to deliver."
If the road map doesn't meet Fields' objectives, Solihull could well face a "slow lingering death" by not getting investment for future production, said a company official.
Dave Osborne, national secretary for the Transport and General Workers Union's automotive section, is optimistic that Solihull will be saved.
"The trade unions have committed to deliver the objectives," he said.
Separately, workers at Jaguar's three factories started working reduced hours Friday, Sept. 3.
They will work four days a week at all three plants for the rest of the year, and take an additional week off at Christmas.
Jaguar is reducing production to reduce dealer stocks, particularly in the United States, where the weak dollar has hurt some European brands.
Jaguar stunned analysts by losing $360 million in the second quarter.
Land Rover's huge and unwieldy Solihull factory has been a problem for Ford.
When Ford bought Land Rover from BMW AG in 2000, four different products were being assembled there: the Range Rover, Discovery, Freelander and Defender.
Last year, Ford decided to move the Freelander to the Jaguar plant at Halewood to simplify operations at Solihull.
Land Rover placed 35th of 36 brands in the 2003 Initial Quality Study of J.D. Power and Associates. Ken Slavin, a Land Rover historian in Lincolnshire, England, said any effort to change the culture at Solihull is made harder by the plant's history of frequent ownership changes.
British Aerospace sold the company to BMW in 1994, and BMW sold it to Ford in 2000.
"In some ways I feel sorry for the guys on the assembly line," Slavin said. "They've been badly led for far too long. They have a culture of their own. It's protecting them from successive management takeovers."