Ford to add 2,000 jobs, raise F-150 capacity at Kansas City plant
DETROIT -- Ford Motor Co. today said it will hire an additional 2,000 workers at its Kansas City Assembly Plant to meet increased demand for F-150 pickups and for the upcoming production of the new Transit family of commercial vehicles.
The increases will come in two phases. Ford will add 900 jobs and a third work crew in the third quarter to build F-150s. Starting in the fourth quarter, Ford will hire an additional 1,100 workers to gear up for production of the Ford Transit commercial van, which begins in 2014.
Ford had already said it planned to produce the Transit in Kansas City, Mo. The additional F-150 production comes as sales of the pickup have exceeded the company's expectations.
"When you look at fourth quarter last year and first quarter this year, you've seen truck segmentation grow at three times the industry," Joe Hinrichs, Ford's president of the Americas, said in a phone interview from Kansas City.
(For the full company announcement, click here.)
Hinrichs declined to say how much capacity would be added with the Kansas City move.
Through March, Ford built 231,607 F-series pickups, including the Super Duty version, in the United States at three assembly plants: Dearborn, Mich.; Kansas City; and Kentucky Truck in Louisville, Ky. That's up 18 percent from a year earlier, according to the Automotive News Data Center.
In 2012, Ford's U.S. F-series production rose 16 percent to 834,666.
Another plant in Escobedo, Mexico, produces low volumes of the F-650 and other large pickups.
The Kansas City factory currently builds the F-150 Super Cab, Super Crew Cab and Super King Cab. Its F-series output through the first three months of 2013 jumped 89 percent to 69,062, narrowly ahead of Kentucky Truck's production of 68,597 Super Duty trucks but well behind Dearborn's production of 93,948 F series.
Riding a housing recovery that's spurring pickup sales, U.S. sales of F-series pickups shot up 24 percent in April and have increased 19 percent so far this year.
"We have strong confidence the housing market is going to continue to grow and improve," he said.
Hinrichs added that Ford has the oldest average age of pickups on the road, at about 11 years.
"Replacement demand plus housing growth plus other sectors like the oil sector plus the overall economy" are pushing pickup sales higher, he said. "We've done a lot of research. We're confident this will sustain itself."
About half the 2,000 workers will be new hires. The other half will be workers who were laid off temporarily in the second quarter of 2012 when Ford moved production of the Escape crossover from Kansas City to Louisville. They had been awaiting the start of Transit production.
Ford's largest U.S. plant
The Kansas City plant is Ford's largest in the United States and includes two separate body shops, two separate paint shops and two final assembly lines.
The Transit, a unibody commercial van developed in Europe, will eventually replace the venerable E-series body-on-frame van first introduced in 1961 as the Ford Econoline van. The Transit will be offered in three body lengths, two wheelbases and three roof heights.
Ford is spending $1.1 billion to retool and refurbish the Kansas City plant. The expansion includes a 437,000-square-foot stamping plant, which was completed in 2012, and a 78,800-square-foot paint shop.
Ford said the Kansas City expansion puts the company three-quarters of the way to hitting its goal of adding 12,000 hourly jobs in the United States by 2015 as outlined in its 2011 contract with the UAW.
The investment is part of $16 billion Ford is investing in U.S. product development and manufacturing operations, including $6.2 billion in plant-specific investments.
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