By on August 8, 2013


After adding 600,000 units to its North American capacity within the past two years, Ford is trying to find ways to increase output of the Escape crossover and midsize Fusion, both of which currently have about 40 days supply. The Fusion is particularly in short supply on the east and west coasts, a good sign for any domestic automaker these days. A 60 day supply of cars in inventory is generally considered normal for the U.S. auto industry. Automotive News is reporting that at the Center for Automotive Research’s Management Briefing Seminars, held in Traverse City, Michigan, Ford VP for North America manufacturing, Jim Tetreault, said, “We’re still looking at how we get more out of every plant, and that’ll be a focus for as long as the demand is as strong as it is.”

One option is adding a third shift at the Flat Rock Assembly Plant, which currently builds Mustangs and a second shift is being added to start building Fusions. Adding capacity at the Louisville Assembly Plant, where the Escape is put together, will be done by speeding up the assembly line. Tetreault said that increasing speed by 2 Escapes an hour would give the automaker another 240 vehicles a week to sell. He said that squeezing out even one more car or light truck an hour would be worthwhile.

So far, Ford has used a combination of adding shifts and increased use of relief and floating employees to keep the lines humming at its 30 plants in North America. The automaker also has twice weekly meetings including manufacturing and purchasing managers along with “supplier technical assistance leaders” to look for capacity improvements. Another area of improvement has been through better equipment maintenance. Ford says that production was improved by 3% just by “better up-time” and new equipment purchases. Attention to ergonomics on the assembly line is also expected to yield greater productivity. Employee health, both reducing on the job injuries and identifying employees at risk for chronic illnesses and providing them with health advice, is also seen as a means of improving capacity by reducing absenteeism.

Ford has been increasing its human resources, with 8,000 hourly and 3,000 salaried employees hired within the last 5 quarters. That leaves Ford with a current total of 82,300 workers in North America. Tetreault doubted that Ford will ever see the kind of employment levels it had before the recession, even with continued growth in the U.S. market.

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12 Comments on “Ford Tries To Increase North American Capacity, Escape & Fusion in High Demand, Short Supply...”

  • avatar

    “We’re still looking at how we get more out of every plant, and that’ll be a focus for as long as the demand is as strong as it is.”
    Lets hope that pushing the limits of their factories doesn’t screw up quality
    any worse then it is now. Fit and finish on models I viewed did not impress me.

  • avatar

    Wow, what a difference a company makes! Contrast the “TTAC STAFF” treatment of Ford vs GM & Chrysler. What a nice piece!

    Most everything you mentioned is routinely done. Ergonomics yields greater productivity? NO, it does not in the short run, In fact, it may introduce inefficiencies (giving an operator an air tool to lift a heavy vs lifting manually–the tool takes more time. Ergonomics is a ‘long-term’ benefit–it reduces repetitive stress or strain injuries, and in so doing makes workers more comofortable AND reduces the companies workman’s comp costs.

    Getting one more job an hour…if the line doesn’t stop for parts shortages or quality, you don’t lose 1/2 or one or two (or more) jobs an hour.

    Everyone does this stuff all the time, but you make Ford sound so special.

    I especially liked the “adding a 3rd shift at Flat Rock, which currently builds Mustangs, and adding a 2nd shift to build Fusions”. Fascinating math there–no wonder Ford is so profitable.

    Perhaps, in the spirit of critical examination that normally characterizes TTAC, and which I find so endearing, your Ford-friendly TTAC staff might ask “..are rumors of sub-par quality, electrical issues and (per Consumer Reports on Fusion) poor interior fits” true? How does trying to crank more jobs thru a capacity constrained system help that?

    No doubt the Fusion is an excellent car–and it looks super, loads of character, which is why it’s selling so well, and so much more than the previous competent, but ho-hum car. I commend Ford for putting a competitive car in such a great-looking body.

    But maybe you should give Ford the same treatment you give GM. Just sayin….

    • 0 avatar

      there are plenty of “we hate everyone except BMW, Audi, and Porsche” car blogs out there. TTAC doesn’t need to be another one.

    • 0 avatar

      Well, one company is gaining market share and one is losing it… Damn those customers for not giving Ford the same treatment they give GM.

    • 0 avatar
      Carlos Danger

      Does not Ford own Lincoln? Why don’t you pull the last 5 or so TTAC articles on them, that should sate anyone’s need for some Ford hate.

    • 0 avatar

      “Escape & Fusion in High Demand, Short Supply”

      “..are rumors of sub-par quality, electrical issues and (per Consumer Reports on Fusion) poor interior fits” true?”

      I guess not to the people who are buying them, but what do they know?

  • avatar

    Agreed. And I think TTAC tells it like it is the vast majority of the time. It’s just that this piece reminds me of the piece (in Bloomberg or WSJ)a few months ago that TTAC panned recently (yesterday). The WSJ was drooling over the ATS and now they reveal that dealer stocks are high, and lots of incentives, which TTAC had been saying for a while. TTAC, in short, asserts that the ATS is a good car, just priced a little high. Now TTAC is being proven out.

    The above piece is overly flattering of Ford and doesn’t give any substantive comment as to how Ford will try to expand supply. The solutions given are standard fare. One could ask, “why weren’t you doing this stuff before? Then it was OK to let dollar bills fly out the window?”

    Just my opinion:)

    • 0 avatar

      You misunderstand the distinction between news and opinion. This post is the former. No criticism or praise on the part of TTAC is present or warranted.

  • avatar

    Heard that Willow Run place is up for grabs… ;)

  • avatar

    Well, I guess that explains the casual fit of the body panels…

  • avatar

    Would not touch a Ford with a 10 ft pole. Crappy company and crappy cars. Friend’s dad had a 2 year old Fusion in the shop for 2 months straight. Ford refused to lemon the car and only reimbursed for one month of his payments. He was going to buy the new MKZ, instead he bought a new, fully loaded Azera with the tech package and loves it. He will never touch a Ford again. There are so many recalls and problems with Fords it is not funny.

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