DETROIT -- Ford Motor Co. is poised to close more than eight assembly and parts plants in an effort to turn around its faltering North American automotive operations, a key company insider says.
Ford is likely to close at least five assembly plants in Atlanta; St. Louis; St. Paul, Minn.; Wixom, Mich.; and Cuautitlan, Mexico, the source said.
The Wixom plant has long been believed to be a candidate for closing, but Ford has considered saving it in recent weeks.
But now "the likelihood to keep it open is low," the Ford source said.
Several powertrain and stamping plants also will be shuttered, said the source, who is familiar with the turnaround plan being crafted by Mark Fields, president of the Americas, and Anne Stevens, COO of the Americas.
The source based his conclusions about future plant closings on specifics contained in the plan, along with his intimate knowledge of Ford's overcapacity problems.
Ford has negotiated the closing of a casting plant in Windsor, Ontario, with the Canadian Auto Workers.
Ford's North American auto business lost $1.4 billion before taxes during the first nine months of 2005. It will lose money again in 2006 before returning to profitability sometime before the end of the decade, said the source.
On Friday, Dec. 2, Fields sent an e-mail to employees saying the plan is not final. A 133-page document being reviewed inside Ford addresses a number of elements beyond cost-cutting, including improvements to marketing, brand-identity and product plans, sources said.
Ford's board of directors will review a version of the plan at a two-day meeting that begins Wednesday, Dec. 7.