IT’S a complex story of tumbling sales, investment abroad, state-backed funding decisions and cost-cutting that has left Southampton’s Ford Transit plant with a closure sign above its gates.

A rescue plan to return Ford’s ailing European business to profit will see Transit production end in Southampton next July for Turkey to take on its workload.

A Daily Echo investigation today charts the road that has driven production of the iconic Transit to a sprawling plant in Turkey.

Ford has today “categorically” insisted the offer of a £10m British Government grant and an £80m Euro loan to upgrade its Turkey plant, both awarded in recent months, are “completely unrelated” to its closure plan.

The motor giant insist its Turkey plant has been the lead manufacturer of the Transit for over a decade and the scale of production at Southampton, which has been reduced to a single shift in recent years, is no longer “viable going forward”.

Yet Ford refuses to say when the closure of its Swaythling plant become an option and referred questions to its US headquarters near Detroit back to Europe.

Daily Echo business writer Matt Smith investigates the decisions that led to the plant’s closure...

How a £80m Euro loan was agreed to boost production of the Transit in Turkey just months before Ford bosses announced the closure its its Southampton van plant.

How the board of Ford Motor Company agreed the plan to close Southampton's Transit factory.

Questions remain over a £10m Government grant awarded to Ford just days before it announced the close its Southampton Transit plant.