Ford boosts F-150 & Escape production

Ford Motor Company today announced it is adding third production shifts at its Dearborn Truck Plant and Kansas City Assembly Plant’s sport utility line to help meet strong demand for Ford F-150 pickups and Escape crossover vehicles.

In August, 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.

“Even with ‘Cash for Clunkers’ behind us, we expect that demand for our fuel-efficient, high quality new vehicles will remain strong,” said Ken Czubay, Ford vice president, Marketing, Sales and Service. “We had a solid July sales month, and we are headed toward an even stronger August. We’re being as creative as we can in pushing the system to meet the demand for our products.”

To meet demand, the operating pattern changes announced at Dearborn Truck Plant will result in the additional production of approximately 10,000 F-150 pickups this year and full-time employment for 2,800 employees who had been working on a two-weeks-on, one-week-off rotating basis since April. The changes at Dearborn Truck will go into effect in late September.

The addition of a third crew on the SUV line at Kansas City Assembly, when combined with previously announced incremental overtime at the plant that began earlier this month, will deliver approximately 2,400 additional Escapes and Mariners by the end of October. Employment levels at Kansas City Assembly will remain unchanged, as the plant also moves from two shifts to one shift of production on its pickup truck line. The changes there are effective beginning in mid-October.

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.

The Ford Escape and Escape Hybrid, the world’s most fuel-efficient 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% 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% – 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.

The Escape and F-150 helped Ford record its ninth retail market share gain in 10 months in July.

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