June 11, 2003

First 2004 Ford F-150 pickup rolls off assembly line

Norfolk, Virginia – The first 2004 Ford F-150 pickup, a sporty red SuperCab Lariat, rolled off the Norfolk Assembly Plant line on Tuesday. The company equipped the first truck with Ford’s 100-millionth V8 engine – the new 5.4 litre 3-valve Triton V8, which was produced April 29 at Ford’s Essex Engine Plant in Windsor, Ontario.

The debut of the 2004 F-150 comes only six days before the company that Henry Ford founded a century ago officially observes its Centennial celebration.

“In the last 50 years, nothing has been more central to our success, or more important to us, than the F-Series,” said Bill Ford, Chairman and CEO. “The power, styling and interiors of this fantastic all-new 2004 Ford F-150 are built to delight our customers and help maintain its place as America’s favorite truck.”

F-Series has been the nation’s best-selling truck for 26 consecutive years and the best-selling vehicle for 21 years in a row.

During the celebration 2,500 employees and guests applauded as Bill Ford drove the first new Ford F-150 off the line and into an arena with Gerald Bantom, United Auto Worker vice president and director of the UAW National Ford Department.

With the launch of the new 2004 Ford F-150 at Norfolk Assembly, Ford also introduced its new flexible production technology. Norfolk is the first of several Ford plants to install a next-generation flexible system, allowing it to build up to eight different models off two platforms. “Norfolk Assembly now has the ability to change the mix, volume and options of products in response to consumer demand and market segmentation – all with minimal investment and changeover loss,” said Roman Krygier, group vice president, Global Manufacturing and Quality.

Over the next decade, Ford expects to save up to U.S.$2 billion because its flexible system will cost 10 percent to 15 percent less than traditional systems, with an added 50 percent savings in changeover costs.

Ford’s flexible body shops employ an industry-first system of 16 standardized cells, or modules, all built from about 300 components. Only product-specific tooling needs to be changed, or computers and robots reprogrammed, to launch new products.

By mid-decade in North America, about half of Ford’s body shops, trim and final assembly operations will be flexible. That number rises to 75 percent by the end of the decade.

Ford’s Kansas City Assembly Plant will begin building the new 2004 Ford F-150 later this summer, and the new Dearborn Truck Plant will begin building the F-Series truck in 2004. Both will be among the first plants to install a flexible production system.

Other plants to install the flexible system include the Chicago Assembly Plant, which will build the all-new 2005 Ford Freestyle, Ford Five Hundred and Mercury Montego, and AutoAlliance International in Flat Rock, Michigan, which will build the new 2005 Mustang beginning next year.

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