Dearborn, Michigan – Ford has announced that it will reduce production at four of its U.S. assembly plants as part of its plan to return its North American operations to profitability by 2009.


The company’s Chicago Assembly Plant and Louisville Assembly Plant will operate on one shift, beginning this summer, while the Cleveland Engine Plant #2 will operate on one shift, beginning in late April. Cleveland Engine Plant #1, which has been idle since May 2007 and was scheduled to resume production this spring, will not return to production until the fourth quarter of 2008.


The company said that the change to a one-shift production pattern does not affect production volume, but will allow the plants to “operate more efficiently by running continually and reducing ‘down weeks’.” Approximately 2,500 employees will be affected at the three plants. Ford is currently offering its U.S. hourly workforce a variety of retirement and buyout packages.


“We remain focused on our plan to return the North American automotive business to profitability,” said Mark Fields, Ford’s president of The Americas. “These actions are necessary as we align our capacity and product mix to meet real customer demand.”


The Chicago Assembly Plant, opened in 1924, currently builds the Ford Taurus, Taurus X and Mercury Sable, and will build the new 2009 Lincoln MKS; it is slated to receive an additional new product as outlined in a bargaining agreement with the UAW. The Louisville Assembly Plant, opened in 1955, builds the Ford Explorer, Explorer Sport Trac and Mercury Mountaineer, and is also slated to receive a new product and investment in a new body shop as outlined in a collective bargaining agreement. The Cleveland #2 plant produces the 3.0-litre engine; the #1 plant built the Duratec 3.5-litre engine until it was temporarily idled. The 3.5-litre is currently built at the company’s Lima Engine Plant.

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