Demand for the fuel-efficient Ford Escape and Mercury Mariner sport utility vehicles, as well as the Ford F-150 pickups, will be met with increased shifts at two U.S. assembly plants. In fact, Ford expects to post its first monthly year-over-year sales increase for F-Series trucks since October 2006, as well as another record-setting sales month for Escape.
Ford’s Dearborn Truck Plant in Dearborn, Michigan builds F-150 pickups, and it will resume as a three-crew operation in September. The move will result in full-time employment for 2,800 employees who had been working on a two-weeks-on and one-week-off rotating basis since April. Additionally, Ford is moving to a three-crew operation from a two-shift operating pattern at Kansas City Assembly Plant in Claycomo, Missouri, in October to maximize the plant’s efficiency and help to better meet demand for Ford Escape and Mercury Mariner vehicles.
The production increases of both vehicles were included in the company’s previously announced production plan for the third and fourth quarter of this year.
“We continue to work together with the UAW to find solutions in our manufacturing facilities that will make them more efficient and our business more competitive,” said Joe Hinrichs, group vice president, Global Manufacturing and Labor Affairs. “The operating pattern changes we are making in these two plants will accomplish both goals, while helping Ford to better meet real customer demand for Ford vehicles.”
The Ford Escape and Escape Hybrid, the world’s most fuel-efficient sport utility vehicle, set a July sales record last month of 20,241 units, its third-highest monthly sales performance since its introduction in 2000. The Escape’s share of the small utility segment is 16 percent in 2009 through July, an increase of 2.3 points compared to the same period in 2008.
At the same time, the company’s F-Series trucks, the best-selling truck for 32 consecutive years, posted its best U.S. monthly sales of 2009 with 36,327 units and total year-to-date share of 34.4 percent – a 1.3 point increase over year-ago levels. Further, F-Series trucks have been the sales leader in Canada for the last three months.
“Customers are taking notice of Ford’s fresh new lineup, and they recognize our best-in-class quality, fuel efficiency and smart technology,” said Mark Fields, Ford’s president of The Americas. “In fact, both internal and external studies show a positive trend in the percentage of consumers with favorable opinions about Ford and our vehicles. When customers decide to pick up a Ford, Lincoln or Mercury for their driveways, we want to be ready for them.”