Dearborn, Michigan – The Ford Motor Company said it is making further reductions to its North American truck production plan, while adding more small cars, crossovers and fuel-efficient powertrains in response to the continued deterioration in the U.S. business environment and the accelerated shift away from large trucks and SUVs.
Ford also announced that sedan and hatchback versions of the next-generation European Ford Focus will be produced in North America beginning in late 2010.
“As gasoline prices average more than $4 a gallon and consumers worry about the weak U.S. economy, we see June industry-wide auto sales slowing further and demand for large trucks and SUVs at one of the lowest levels in decades,” said Alan Mulally, president and CEO. “Ford has taken decisive action to respond to this accelerating shift in customer demand away from large trucks and SUVs to smaller cars and crossovers, and we will continue to act swiftly moving forward.”
Including medium and heavy vehicles, Ford now expects U.S. industry volume to be between 14.7 and 15.2 million units, compared with the previous assumption of 15 to 15.4 million units. Accordingly, Ford now plans to produce 475,000 vehicles in the third quarter, a reduction of 50,000 units from previously-announced plans and a decline of 25 per cent when compared with the 2007 third quarter. In the fourth quarter, Ford plans to produce 550,000 to 590,000 units, a reduction of 40,000 units from previously-announced plans, and a decline of 8 to 14 per cent compared with the 2007 fourth quarter.
Ford will also delay the introduction of the new 2009 F-150 pickup truck by approximately two months, due to the industry-wide slowdown in the segment and the need to sell down dealer inventory of the current model. The new truck will go on sale in late fall.
To cut back its production, Ford will now begin 2009 F-150 production in August at Kansas City Assembly Plant and in September at Dearborn Truck, and will eliminate one shift at each plant; Michigan Truck Plant will be idled for nine consecutive weeks beginning the week of June 23; and the line speed will be reduced at Kentucky Truck Plant and Chicago Assembly. Production of large pickups will wind down at Cuautitlan Assembly Plant in Mexico by the end of 2008; the plant will be retooled for production of the new Fiesta small car for North America, beginning in early 2010.
Ford will also add a third shift for production of the Ford Edge, Lincoln MKX and Ford Flex at its plant in Oakville, Ontario. Other upgraded plants include a third shift at Kansas City, which produces the Ford Escape and Mercury Mariner; and a new third shift at Wayne Assembly to produce the Ford Focus.
“We view the move to smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles as permanent, and we are responding to customer demand,” Mulally said. “In the near term, we are adjusting production to the actual demand, increasing small cars and crossovers, and reducing large trucks and SUVs. For the long term, we are moving fast to introduce more small cars, crossovers and fuel-efficient powertrains, including more hybrids, and we will adjust our manufacturing facilities to match our updated product line-up.”