Betting that its Ford Fusion sedan will be a hit, Ford Motor Co. plans to add a third shift at its Hermosillo, Mexico, plant next year.
The third shift will start during the first quarter, Brian Vought, chief engineer of Ford's new mid-sized sedans, told Automotive News. Hermosillo makes about 800 combined units of the Fusion and its two siblings, the Mercury Milan and Lincoln Zephyr, each day.
The goal is to ramp up to 1,050 cars a day early next year.
At that rate, Hermosillo would produce about 250,000 vehicles annually, the Automotive News Data Center estimates. Ford has said that Hermosillo would have a maximum annual capacity of 300,000.
Production of the three cars began Aug. 1. Sales started in late September, and Ford says the Fusion already is selling beyond expectations. Ford sold 4,078 Fusions through October, about 50 percent more than it says it expected at that point.
"Vehicles are moving off dealer lots very quickly, and we are working to build dealer inventories," Vought wrote in an e-mail.
The Hermosillo cars have gotten off to a better start than new models from Ford's Chicago plant did a year ago.
Ford sold 6,618 of the Fusions, Milans and Zephyrs in October after beginning the month with just 1,100 in stock, said George Pipas, Ford's sales analysis and reporting manager. That was almost 1,000 units more than Ford sold of the Chicago-made Ford Five Hundred, Mercury Montego and Ford Freestyle in October 2004 when it had started the month with about 3,000 units.
The Hermosillo plant will nearly double its work force when the third shift is added.
Ford employs about 1,600 hourly workers and 220 salaried workers at Hermosillo, a Ford official said. The automaker plans to add 1,500 hourly workers and 50 salaried workers when production is increased next year, with some of the new workers assigned to the existing shifts.
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