BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- Ford Motor Co. is so intent on standardizing factories and assembly plants worldwide that no money can be spent on plants unless the expenditure improves standardization, Ford manufacturing chief Joe Hinrichs said Tuesday evening.
Hinrichs said standardization of processes and equipment worldwide boosts flexibility and is crucial to consistent quality and cost savings. He said Ford Fiesta compacts built in China will come from a factory identical to Fords Cuautitlan Assembly plant in Mexico.
Within three years, 10 Ford assembly plants in North America should achieve competitive levels of body shop flexibility, Hinrichs said in a keynote speech at the Automotive News Manufacturing Conference here.
Those include major new body shops at the Louisville Assembly Plant in Kentucky and the Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, Mich. Louisville will build an as-yet unidentified compact world car, while Michigan Assembly will build a new version of the Ford Focus small sedan.
Hinrichs said Ford is well positioned to meet growing demand for smaller cars. Within five years we will be building 1 million subcompact vehicles around the world and 2 million compact vehicles -- both off common global platforms, he said.
Ford is seeing the fruit of attention to quality, manufacturing and design, Hinrichs said. Ford has received numerous vehicle quality awards and has cut warranty costs by $1.2 billion in the past 24 months, he said.
A cost-saving new labor accord with the UAW will allow Ford to build small cars profitably in the United States, Hinrichs said. He said manufacturing costs today are on an equal footing with foreign makers producing vehicles in nonunion U.S. factories.