By on June 14, 2012

Today is a Louisville day for me; Georgetown can’t have all the fun, after all. Oh wait: They build Toyotas not named FR-S. Never mind.

Yesterday afternoon, my commonwealth’s governor Steve Beshear (D-KY) and Lieutenant Governor Jerry “Mayor For Life” Abramson (so nicknamed as he was my city’s mayor for three consecutive terms pre-merger of county and city governments, and two more terms as the first mayor of post-merger Louisville Metro) unveiled the reopened and revamped Ford Louisville Assembly Plant, the home of the Ford Focus-esque crossover known as the 2013 Escape.

Having recovered from the hail storm 3,500 Escapes could not… escape almost a month ago, the 99-year-old plant will utilize around 4,500 workers on three shifts while employing 20 miles of conveyors and 1,000 assembly machines. The plant’s newfound skills and flexibility will allow those workers to build six different types of vehicles at the same time, all thanks to a $600 million USD investment made by Ford in 2010 that also brought in 1,800 workers and a second shift that year; a new contract with the UAW in 2011 added 1,300 more bodies and a third shift. Ford also plans to invest $600 million to Louisville’s Kentucky Truck Plant, home to the F-Series Super Duty and 4,000 employees.

To quote Louisville’s own long-serving congressman, Representative John Yarmuth (D-KY), “I was proud to support federal investments that helped Ford retool the Louisville Assembly Plant, and I am thrilled to see the results today. In less than three years, we went from being behind the curve to beating the curve, and we’re using American labor and ingenuity to do it. The Louisville workforce, Ford and government partners have shown just how successful we can be, working together to build the vehicles of the future and the innovations that keep our city and our country on the leading edge of manufacturing.”

Photo credit: Ford

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27 Comments on “Ford, Political Officials Unveil Newly Revamped Plant in Louisville...”

  • avatar

    The auto industry is going to secure Obama’s reelection.

    After what Romney did to KB TOYS with his corporate raiding is finally coming out. He’s gonna get annihilated just like Palin/Mccain.

    • 0 avatar

      Obummer wouldn’t win if the election were today.

      • 0 avatar

        wanna bet?

        $10 – I’m good for it.

        In fact, I don’t even want your money WHEN ROMNEY LOSES. I just want to see your face.

      • 0 avatar

        If Romney would be the same Romney that ran in Massachusetts, he would clean Obama’s clock. However, he will pander too far to the right of his party, which will make moderates ponder: Is the devil we know better than the devil we don’t? Most of America is somewhat left and right of center. Courting too far in either direction is politically dangerous.

    • 0 avatar
      George B

      Too bad Democrats keep bringing politics into auto manufacturing. The Ford Escape seems like a nice enough small crossover and I’m glad some auto workers in Louisville have jobs, but no way I want to help fund my political enemy the UAW.

      Just not seeing Obama tee shirts, bumper stickers, or any other evidence of enthusiasm. That’s so 2008. Obama will still do well in urban enclaves, but Romney should pick up enough votes in the suburbs to win a lot of states Obama won in 2008. I predict that the 2012 electoral college map will look a lot like the 2004 map, but with more red.

      • 0 avatar

        Give me a break. If you really dug into where the money goes and comes from with all manufacturing you wouldn’t buy a damn thing. Stop pretending to be a principled political actor.

  • avatar

    Except he left Bain in 1999 and KB Toys was purchased by Bain in 2000. He still profitted from the deal no doubt, but he didn’t have direct control over what happened to KB Toys.

    • 0 avatar

      That’s actually incorrect. He left Bain in 2001, although he likes to tell the story differently.

      • 0 avatar

        He left Bain in 2001, yes, but he had nothing to do with the day to day operations past 1999. Even if he did stay until 2001, Bain Capital’s payout on the KB Toys leveraged buyout wasn’t until after he left. They also didn’t close stores until 2004.

        It doesn’t really make a difference anyway. This election is clear cut in philosophy. Minds are mostly made up already. Both candidates are mostly likeable, each has flaws.

      • 0 avatar

        Apparently people don’t understand what Bain did. It bought companies in serious trouble and tried to revive them. In the real world, investors doing this expect to make money on this, and they should – it’s not like the government bailing out GM. Some companies were revived, but some weren’t. No one has a 100 percent success rate at this.

  • avatar

    “Having recovered from the hail storm 3,500 Escapes could not… escape almost a month ago,…”

    Oh, yeah. That reminds me… How did Ford’s “Escape Routes” show make out in the ratings?

    OK, enough snark. Except for The Lincoln Problem, is Ford really in good shape? A highly flexible and modern plant makes a nice addition to the inventory.

    • 0 avatar

      I made it about halfway through the first episode of Escape Routes before I couldn’t take it anymore – but I can’t seem to make it through any reality show other than Top Chef (OK, the odd episode of Pawn Stars here and there too).

      Flexible plants are the way everything will go. Chicago Assembly produces the MKS, Taurus, and Explorer. Oakville Assembly produces the Edge, MKX, Flex, and MKT, and Kentucky Truck handles the F-Series Super Duty as well as the Expedition and Navigator. Having a high volume model or two allows for some lower volume models to stay in production affordably.

      • 0 avatar

        This really points out the root of Ford’s rebound…

        These flexible plants are basically building the same vehicle but with different bodies. That creates economy of scale, improved quality, less inventory, less tooling, less engineering, less suppliers, less validation, yada, yada, yada.
        Sure this has been done before, however it usually reeks of badge engineering and the public figures it out.

        What Ford did was make very different looking vehicles in different segments while using the same platforms.
        Would the public relate a Taurus to an Explorer?
        The public does not put togther the multi-vehicle equation of similarity.

        This strategy works for Ford and they are making great products.

        For us gearheads, they still have the Mustang and it does not fit the shared platform strategy. Fortunately for us they have enough economies of scale to keep it unique. If Ford decided to commonalize the Mustang it would probably kill it. That is because the owners in this segment understand the difference. See what happened when Ford tried to “FWD Probe” the Mustang.

        However Ford’s stategy has a flaw, Lincoln.
        I think the public picks up on Lincoln badge engineering because the vehicles are so similar in looks and segment to the Ford sister vehicle.
        That’s the next thing that Ford must fix.

      • 0 avatar

        That’s because the One Ford Plan had Lincoln gone and needing to share anything. The Ford family and I’m sure some loyalist did like that at all, and with the other luxury marquees gone, the execs couldn’t get stuck in Limited models. So Lincoln lives and it seems like the funding will slowly get there but it’ll probably be another cycle or two before there are any significant differences between a Ford and a Lincoln, although I’m not sure there has been since the early 60s.

      • 0 avatar

        The last round of Lincoln vehicles have been pretty well visually diversified from the Ford donor platforms. A MKS doesn’t look much like a Taurus, a MKT doesn’t look anything like a Flex, and the new ’13 MKZ doesn’t look anything like a Fusion.

        The next step is offering features not available on the Ford line. With the ’13 MKS and MKT there are already some major new benefits to going Lincoln – the Continuously Controlled Dampers in the new Lincoln Drive Control give the Lincoln vehicles a better ride and more confident handling than the similar Ford vehicle, active noise cancellation combined with more sound insulation will give them a mor premium feel, and Lincoln has already started using a much higher grade of leather vs the Ford line. With the upcoming ’13 MKZ the V6 will be exclusive vs the Fusion, giving another reason to pay the extra price.

      • 0 avatar

        I put on my rose colored glasses…

        MKX still looks like the Edge.
        MKZ still seems like Fusion’s older sister with fake jewelry.

        Lincoln today is really higher end Fords. That strategy is what they should have done with Mercury, not Lincoln.

      • 0 avatar

        The last truly unique Lincolns – until the 1999 LS – that did not share a body or platform with a Ford or a Mercury were the hideous 1958-60 models.

        The stunning suicide-door models of the 1960s shared a cowl and other unseen parts with the Thunderbird. You can even see a resemblance in the grille and headlights of the 1961 Thundebird and Lincoln.

        The 1968-71 Continental Mark III was based on the 1967-71 four-door Thunderbird platform.

        The suicide-door models and Continental Mark III are examples of how platform sharing SHOULD be done. They shared common parts with a Ford to keep costs down, but they maintained a distinct identity. No one confused them with a contemporary Ford or Mercury.

  • avatar

    “I was proud to support federal investments that helped Ford retool the Louisville Assembly Plant,…”

    Sounds like there might be a g’mnt motors in KY as well as MI. All these dyed in the wool capitalists who can’t stand any regulation, etc. somehow also can’t get enough tax money coming their way.

    • 0 avatar

      A business has a fiduciary obligation to the owners to seek out cheap money and if the government is offering cheap money, they’ll take it. There’s a difference between being a capitalist and being in favor of free markets. Most businesses would love a government approved monopoly.

      • 0 avatar

        …you are absolutely right…true capitalists care only about the politicians and politics that will satisfy them for the lowest cost. He was, however, referring to opportunist politicians who love to pretend to be “free market capitalists”, rather than the corporate lackeys they really are. Tends to be more prevalent among republicans.

    • 0 avatar

      You must be talking about GM plant in Bowling Green, KY that puts out Corvettes, right?

  • avatar

    Not only is the design of this jacked up Focus horribly inconsistent, it’s offensive.

    There hasn’t been a worse looking vehicle since the MKT…or Aztec.

    Ford’s designers are completely incompetent and need to be fired. Every last one.

    • 0 avatar

      My wife loves it. If my wife loves it, it’ll sell like hotcakes. She’s like the Family Feud #1 answer when it comes to cars.

    • 0 avatar

      It looks better in person. Most importantly, the 1.6L EcoBoost (which should be the volume engine) provides more power, better fuel efficiency, and much much less noise than the old 2.5 I4.

      The biggest problem with the old Escape is that the 2.5 liter was very noisy on acceleration. I can’t begin to explain how relieved I am that once the inventory of ’12 models is sold through that I won’t have to deal with the inevitable noise vs fuel economy debate that seems to pop up about the 2.5 I4 vs the 3.0 V6 on the current model with at least 1 out of ever 5 customers.

      • 0 avatar

        One of our local dealers has two…they both look very sharp. I have to wonder, though, if customers who liked the old-school, square-rigged Escape will go for the new, high-style model.

  • avatar

    Politics aside it is nice to read a good news story now and then.

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