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autoviva2010-12-13 15:02:38

Ford invests $600 million in Louisville for Escape production

Ford invests $600 million in Louisville for Escape production

Ford’s Louisville Assembly Plant will receive a $600 million investment in order to produce the next-generation of the Escape for the North American market, from 2011. Thanks to this investment the plant will become a more modern and flexible facility.

The Louisville will be the third North American body-on-frame truck plant to be re-tooled by Ford in order to produce fuel-efficient products from the brand’s global vehicle platforms. Louisville Assembly has been responsible for the production of the Ford Explorer SUV since 1989.

After moving the production of the all-new 2011 Explorer to Chicago Assembly, Ford is giving to the Louisville facility the production of the next-generation Escape, which will also provide the plant future manufacturing flexibility.

The first sip of the new Escape will be given at the North American International Auto Show in January, with Ford unveiling a concept vehicle.

Thanks to the investment, when production restarts in the transformed Louisville Assembly Plant in 2011, the facility will operate on two shifts with approximately 2,900 employees. Ford will be creating 1,800 jobs that will be filled through a combination of transferring employees from other facilities, re-activating workers on indefinite layoff at the time of launch and hiring new workers.

“Our Louisville Assembly Plant transformation further proves our commitment to American manufacturing and our commitment to deliver the high-quality, fuel-efficient vehicles people really want,” said Mark Fields, Ford’s president of The Americas. “Working closely with the UAW and Kentucky officials, we have found a way to competitively deliver an important new vehicle that is good for our customers and supports our plan to deliver a well-balanced product portfolio of cars, trucks and utilities.”

Towards the end of 2011 the upgraded facility and tooling will be ready to restart production with enhancements in its final assembly area and body shop. The reprogrammable tooling in the body shop will enable the plant to produce multiple vehicle models at the same time without requiring downtime for tooling changeover. This characteristic will make Louisville Assembly Plant Ford’s most flexible high-volume plant in the world.

Thanks to the new technology the plant will be able to produce up to six different vehicles at the same time, allowing Ford to meet demand more quickly.

“Manufacturing flexibility is a key to competitiveness, and we are continually exploring ways to raise the bar in this critical area of the business,” said Jim Tetreault, Ford’s vice president of North America Manufacturing. “While we are launching Louisville Assembly Plant with one key product – the next-generation Ford Escape – we are building in the flexibility to produce other vehicles at the plant in the future, depending upon volume requirements, customer preferences and other factors that affect vehicle demand.”

The $600 million investment that Ford will make in Louisville Assembly Plant will be supported by the company’s green partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy. The Louisville Assembly Plant is one of 11 Ford facilities in the U.S. participating in the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Incentives Program that has been initiated by Congress and implemented by the Obama administration.

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