As part of an overall strategy to move more jobs and manufacturing back to the U.S. from countries such as Mexico, China, and Japan, Ford will invest $16 billion in its U.S. product development and manufacturing operations, including $6.2 billion in plant investments over the next three years.
Moving the medium-duty operation from Escobedo, Mexico, to Avon Lake, Ohio, is a small step in a strategy Ford leadership and the UAW agreed upon as part of their recent contract negotiations. The Ohio facility had been making E-Series vans for many years but hadn’t been running at full capacity for some time. E-Series vans will not be fully phased out until the end of the decade, as more Euro-styled transport and commercial vans are expected become more popular and will likely fill that gap.
Ford also announced that the Euro-styled Transit van will come to the U.S. as early as 2013 and is scheduled to be built at the Kansas City, Mo., assembly plant. The plant had been building Ford Escape compact SUVs as well as one line of F-150s.
The current SUV line at the Kansas City facility, which will be idled for retooling after the current Escape is phased out in April, will reopen in 2013, producing the new Transit full-size van. During the retooling, the plant will continue to build F-150 trucks. To take advantage of the slowly recovering full-size pickup truck market, the company also plans to increase F-150 production, building the full-size F-150s on two shifts beginning in May. This will bring about 800 more employees to the Kansas City assembly truck line, for a total of about 1,700 workers at the plant.
When this Kansas City Assembly Plant retooling is complete, Ford will have the flexibility of building the F-150 on five shifts – two in Kansas City and three in Dearborn, Mich., allowing the company to better meet increasing and changing customer demand.