Ford Motor Co. is investing $600 million to renovate its Louisville, Ky., assembly plant to build the next-generation Escape for North America. An estimated 1,800 jobs will be added when the plant reopens in late 2011, Ford announced today.
The automaker said the factory is the third North American body-on-frame truck plant it is retrofitting to build more fuel-efficient vehicles.
The refurbished plant will be flexible enough to produce five additional models — cars, crossovers and wagons — and making it Ford’s most advanced factory in the world, the automaker said. Bloomberg News reported the plant will also produce a small crossover for Lincoln starting in 2012.
The plant has assembled the Ford Explorer SUV since 1990. Ford plans to end output of the 2010 Explorer SUV on Dec. 16.
Ford has shifted output of the all-new 2011 Explorer to its Chicago assembly plant. The Escape and Escape Hybrid are currently built in Kansas City, Mo.
Ford’s Kansas City plant will continue to build the Ford F-150 pickup on one shift. Missouri lawmakers have offered Ford incentives to bring a new model to Kansas City and keep the plant open.
â€œAdditional new products for Kansas City will be announced at a future time,â€ Ford spokesperson Marcey Evans told Bloomberg.
When the Louisville factory reopens in 2011, Ford said it will operate on two production shifts with about 2,900 employees — up from one shift currently and about 1,100 employees.
Ford said the 1,800 additional jobs are expected to
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