Ford Motor Co. has announced plans to invest $600 million to transform its Louisville Assembly Plant (LAP) into what it says will be the most flexible, high-volume plant in the world.
The state-of-the-art facility will build Ford’s next-generation Escape for the North American market. Production is expected to start in late 2011 and will require a second shift, creating 1,800 new jobs.
The plant will reopen with tooling and facility upgrades in its final assembly area and body shop. Reprogrammable tooling in the body shop will allow the plant to produce multiple vehicle models at the same time without requiring downtime for tooling changeover. The new technology will enable LAP to build up to six different vehicles at the same time, allowing Ford to meet demand more quickly in the event of shifting customer preferences dictated by changing economic conditions.
“Our Louisville Assembly Plant transformation further proves our commitment to American manufacturing and our commitment to deliver the high-quality, fuel-efficient vehicles people really want,” said Mark Fields, Ford’s president of The Americas. “Working closely with the UAW and Kentucky officials, we have found a way to competitively deliver an important new vehicle that is good for our customers and supports our plan to deliver a well-balanced product portfolio of cars, trucks and utilities.”
LAP 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.
To solidify the state’s commitment to Ford’s growth in Louisville, the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority approved up to $240 million in tax incentives for fully realized investment and hiring.