Ford to invest $600 mn in US plant ramp-up

Ford to invest $600 mn in US plant ramp-up

New York: Ford Motor Company said Thursday it would invest $600 million to upgrade a Kentucky plant into the US automaker’s highest-volume plant in the world.

Ford said it would transform its plant in Louisville into a state-of-the-art facility that will start building the next-generation Escape sport utility vehicle (SUV) late next year.

“The plant is the third North American body-on-frame truck plant that Ford is re-tooling to enable production of fuel-efficient products from its global vehicle platforms," the company said in a statement.

The Escape is one of the nation’s best-selling small SUVs, according to auto industry research firm Edmunds.

Ford said its Louisville Assembly Plant, which has been building the Ford Explorer SUV since 1989, will close during the upgrade and its production shifted to Chicago.

When the plant reopens in late 2011, it will operate on two production shifts, instead of the current one, building the Escape.

The accelerated production will require an additional 1,800 jobs from the plant’s current staffing levels, the firm said, adding that the extra jobs will be filled through a combination of existing Ford workers and new hires.

Ford shares closed 0.42% higher at $16.76 in New York.