By on November 28, 2018

2017 Ford Escape Assembly Factory Production, Image: Ford Motor Company

Have you heard about that other American automaker — the one that doesn’t callously ruin lives? This question, no doubt percolating inside the craniums of U.S. lawmakers and pundits, doesn’t need to be spoken to be heard.

What would normally be a simple announcement of a production increase at one plant and a decrease at two others took on a symbolic nature this week. Ford wants to build more large SUVs but requires fewer cars. Thanks to a quirk of geography, no layoffs are planned — something that can’t be said of GM’s scorched earth plan, right?

It shakes out like this: Ford’s Kentucky Truck Plant, builder of the popular Expedition and Lincoln Navigator (as well as the Super Duty pickup line), has pressure on it to boost production. People want those big luxo rigs, and the Blue Oval has stated in the past that Kentucky will end up building more SUVs than initially expected.

Meanwhile, the Louisville Assembly Plant, home of the Ford Escape and Lincoln MKC, doesn’t have the same pressure. Ford plans to go to move from three shifts to two in the spring. Up north, the Flat Rock plant in Michigan will go from two shifts to one, all due to reduced demand for the Ford Mustang and especially the Lincoln Continental.

The proximity of healthier plants means no layoffs are planned at this time. Some 500 workers from Louisville will head to the nearby Kentucky truck plant to build larger vehicles, while 500 members of the Flat Rock contingent will head to the Livonia Transmission Plant to build six- and 10-speed automatics. (Ford planned to add to its Livonia workforce following a $350 million upgrade announced last year.)

About 150 other Flat Rock workers will be sent to other Ford plants in the region, the automaker claims.

In a statement reported by Automotive News, UAW Vice President Rory Gamble said, “Our collectively bargained contract provides for the placement of all members displaced by the shift reduction and, after working with Ford, we are confident that all impacted employees will have the opportunity to work at nearby facilities.”

Of course, the news comes just two days after GM opened the bomb bay doors of its corporate Stratofortress and jettisoned up to 14,800 future pink slips on its North American workforce, announcing the impending closure of assembly plants in Ontario, Ohio, and metro Detroit, and two transmission plants in Maryland and Michigan. While the economics of building a number of steadily declining car models in increasingly lonely factories was not lost on analysts, the rage sparked by the announcement hasn’t abated a bit.

Taking to Twitter late last night, President Trump stated, “Very disappointed with General Motors and their CEO, Mary Barra, for closing plants in Ohio, Michigan and Maryland. Nothing being closed in Mexico & China. The U.S. saved General Motors, and this is the THANKS we get! We are now looking at cutting all @GM subsidies, including …. for electric cars. General Motors made a big China bet years ago when they built plants there (and in Mexico) – don’t think that bet is going to pay off. I am here to protect America’s Workers!”

GM’s stock, which rose modestly in the wake of forward-sounding statements from Mary Barra about keeping the automaker healthy in tumultuous times, tumbled.

Trump also raised the prospect of imposing import tariffs on foreign automobiles, referencing the “chicken tax” of the 1960s. “The President has great power on this issue – Because of the G.M. event, it is being studied now!” he tweeted Wednesday morning, underscoring his Monday promise to Barra to “put a lot of pressure” on her company.

While Ford sailed through this production shuffle almost completely unscathed, the “no jobs lost” assertion won’t carry over to the company’s $11 billion restructuring plan. That bombshell has yet to fall.

[Image: Ford Motor Company]

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57 Comments on “Ford Cuts Factory Shifts, Comes Out Looking Like the Golden Child...”


  • avatar
    MoDo

    Ford? It was FCA that dropped their cars and simply replaced their production spots with Rams & Jeep and kept on truckin’.

    • 0 avatar

      Unlike GM, FCA actually makes good Trucks and SUVs. It seems to me GM trucks all have early 1990s interior design. Pure shit……..

    • 0 avatar
      zerofoo

      Steady now….I bought two Grand Cherokees so I resemble that remark – but FCA does seem to sell a fair number of Chargers and Challengers.

      Could it be that Americans can be persuaded to by sedans and coupes if they are powered by V8s and sending that power to the rear wheels?

      Could be….

      • 0 avatar
        MoDo

        I think its deeper than that and maybe a group of reasons. Good marketing, good design, familiarity, hellcat/demon fame on the higher end, people “know them” etc. Whatever it is I am sure the other car makers would love the formula! I have owned a Charger SRT and will be getting another.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          The one and only reason why FCA is still alive is Jeep. It’s the “tough off roader” image. And it works – take me, for example. I have no desire whatsoever to own a CUV, but if I were to consider one, a Jeep dealer would be my first stop. Why? Because a CUV, to me, implies off road ability of some kind, and Jeep has a long rep for that. Is that irrational? Of course – the overwhelming majority of Jeeps are glorified compact cars. But the image still sticks. Irrational, but true.

          • 0 avatar
            Lorenzo

            It’s true Jeep has bailed out FCA, but that “tough off roader” image goes back quite a ways.

            When American Motors bought Jeep in 1970, they began with the tagline, “We wrote the book on four wheel drive”, even though there was a Four Wheel Drive Company in 1909.

            It should be noted that Willys Overland was a successful car company in the 1930s when it got the contract to build the design stolen from American Bantam. It didn’t stop Willys from being absorbed by Kaiser after the war.

            Kaiser industries also sold cars, but ended up off-loading Jeep to AMC, which ended up being bought out by Chrysler, which ended up being sold to and then merged with Fiat.

            You might say Jeep has been a jinx to every owner since the US government declared the American Bantam design, submitted for a military contract, was government property. That might mean FCA is living on borrowed time.

  • avatar
    civicjohn

    Well I have said on here that I’m unwinding my F position. With the new Avaitor SUV and GMs stupid move (maybe Barra didn’t expect the blowback, right or wrong), I’m gonna keep a few shares and hopefully see that dividend for a couple more quarters.

    Ranger, ship it. Ford never knows when our great leader will put them under the microscope.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Prediction: Flat Rock is a dead plant walking…

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    The economic gurus stated if the chicken tax covers all vehicles 250k jobs on the US lines will be lost in the 1st 2 years. And vehicle prices will rise $4,400.

    Not looking good. I’ve been describing this for years.

    So sad.

    • 0 avatar
      civicjohn

      BAFO, really?

      Please explain how this will happen, since nobody else seems to be able to predict it.

      Please point us to some of these economic gurus.

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al from Oz

        Yesterday:
        Similarly, a study by the Center for Automotive Research found an auto tariff would boost the average cost of a car by $US4,400 for American consumers. The study found that auto sales would fall by 2 million a year and shave nearly $US60 billion off gross domestic product.
        Read more at https://www.businessinsider.com.au/trump-auto-tariffs-trucks-chicken-tax-gm-europe-trade-war-2018-11#0TdrySiFBgrWGpp7.99

        Yesterday AND UP TO 624 000 JOBS:
        That would raise car prices and kill jobs, according to at least two serious studies of the proposal. The Peterson Institute for International Economics found that new 25% tariffs on all imported cars and car parts would cut U.S. auto production by 1.5% and destroy 195,000 jobs. If other countries retaliated with similar tariffs—as is typically the case—production would fall 4% and 624,000 U.S. jobs would disappear.

        https://au.finance.yahoo.com/news/trumps-chicken-tax-kill-not-save-automotive-jobs-190902342.html

        So, how much extra are you paying for US pickups due to the Chicken Tax??

      • 0 avatar
        ToddAtlasF1

        I want an Australian to tell me how to keep my domestic auto industry.

      • 0 avatar
        civicjohn

        Well, BAFO, I’ll stay out of the name calling, but since you are in the business of predictive analysis, you must have made a killing in the US stock market yesterday because of some of your good old analysis. The two groups you picked have absolutely no bias, do they.

        I can also find experts that can justify every position of any topic. However, do let me know what day those 624k jobs drop.

      • 0 avatar
        pdog_phatpat

        So, this kind of garbage is okay here…but I get crapped on because I give this POS a piece of my mind? Disgusting hypocrisy.

        • 0 avatar
          Adam Tonge

          I’ve Moderated some of his comments too. I will take care of this one as well.

          Al cannot keep himself from attacking others or calling others names, so he won’t be joining us anymore.

    • 0 avatar
      CaddyDaddy

      From best I can tell, BAFO is a ChiCom Bot. Everything American bad regardless of the person, project or product. He says he’s from DWn Under?? Also, he/she is always touting why we should import everything. Yup ChiCo bot. Or maybe Geeley / SAIC troll getting us ready to buy Chinese vehicles.

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus

        The other day he claimed he was born in the United States, and frequently makes references to being in the USA. With that logic, I should change my username to John From Canada, since, yes, I did spend some time in Canada in the past. Doesn’t make me “from” there, but oh well. Facts matter not when you’ve got an agenda to push, as is painfully obvious from his posts.

        • 0 avatar
          Lie2me

          He was born and raised in New Jersey, most of his family still lives here so he returns and spends his summers here

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            No, I don’t spend summers. I spend my time anywhere in the US. My job, my family and friends are far wide across the great nation of the USA.

            What worries me are some of the people in the US and how they allowed the great country to become a laughing stock across the globe with the advent of a moron in chief you call President Trump.

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al from Oz

        Everything Amercian is bad?

        Name one thing other than the Big 3 Business Operating Model that I state is bad?

        I think you just are a scared person who drank way too much Exceptionalist Koolaid.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      Its good to see you guys are worried about the future of the US like myself. The most significant difference is you can see the forest through the trees.

      Look at why the US manufacturers are failing in global markets compared to their global peers in under identical market conditions.

      Even in the US the “import” manufacturers are as or more successful than the Big 3 who are only afloat because of large protected pickups and the picup derived SUVs.

      Maybe the Big 3 can only be profitable when protection is offered to them at the expense of others.

      The US manufacturers are not competitive.

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        @BAFO – You’re entire platform here is base on stupid. Yours and your “proof”. Yes articles/studies often get it wrong, especially when it comes to “truck”.

        Your article is based on this link, if you click on it:

        aei.org/publication/the-anti-consumer-25-chicken-tax-on-imported-trucks-has-insulated-the-big-3-from-foreign-competition-for-50-years/

        Searching for articles that get it completely wrong isn’t hard to find if you look hard enough.

        Having a Business MBA doesn’t mean a person knows the difference between “trucks” and pickups. In fact it almost guarantees they don’t know the difference..

        “Trucks” in this case includes everything from PT Cruisers to RAV4s, and practically everything that’s not a sedan, 3-door hatch, or sports car.

        Going back to your stupid articles (BTW, even wikipedia gets it wrong), they claim “truck” sales in the US have steadily risen to the 66.6 percent of the market we see today!

        “Stupid” in your case, and also that of the articles you link, never explains how the Big 3 automakers get to enjoy the Chicken tax, but Toyota, Nissan, Honda, and the others don’t??

        If the Big 3 are “insulated” by the Chicken tax, so are the rest. And of course Toyota, Nissan and Honda have the best shot at killing the Big 3’s lock on “Big 3” pickups as well as Big 3 “trucks”.

        Occasionally the Big 3 hit on products that are actually unbeatable. 3/4 tons and up, are huge part of the profitability their pickups, btw.

        After Toyota, Nissan and Honda, the chances of any “foreign” automakers, like everyone from VW, Fiat, Peugeot, Tata, Citroen, Mahindra, Porsche, Audi, Renault, etc, etc, threatening the Big 3’s lock on “trucks” (of both kind, including SUVs of all sizes) steeply decline.

        If Toyota, Nissan and Honda combined, can barely make a tiny dent, and within the US borders (or NAFTA as it used to be called) and from Japan, what about Ssangyong you say? If of course there wasn’t the Chicken tax any more?

        As always, stupid is as stupid does.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Trump is way off on this.

    It was the government who made a deal with the devil in 2009, not GM. “Thanks” from GM came in the form of keeping the remainder of the company open for another decade, but the bailout is ancient history by now.

    If you don’t want to be disappointed by corporate decisions, then stop offering them corporate welfare. On the other hand, if you want to dictate terms, then nationalize GM and see how that goes.

    • 0 avatar
      civicjohn

      @SCE, yes it was the Feds who made the deal, and they never had any commitment by GM to never reduce headcount.

      2 funny things have happened in the last 24 hours – Mrs. “multi-millionaire” Barra walked back her comments regarding head count reductions, “they will be offered employment at other GM facilities”, and the old Saturn plant getting another vehicle to build.

      And I do love the richness of Obama commenting after the bailout that after he got out of office he would be buying a Volt. Still waiting to see the cameras on that transaction.

    • 0 avatar
      WallMeerkat

      A nationalised car maker can either go British Leyland or Renault. One was split up and now exists as Indian Jaguar-Land Rover, German MINI and Chinese MG. The other is part of a multinational grouping with Japanese carmakers Nissan and Mitsubishi.

      Of course GM no longer has to worry about unions with any great power, which was BLs downfall in the 70s.

    • 0 avatar
      zerofoo

      The bailout isn’t ancient history in the context of automotive product development cycles.

      Developing a new powertrain or a new chassis takes years to get to production. The bailout is only about two product cycles old at this point.

      GM was forced to produce Eco-friendly vehicles to access TARP funds. The Cruze and the Volt were part of that deal.

      It would have been far better to give GM TARP funds with the following conditions:

      1. Any domestically consumed cars must be produced in the US with US materials and labor.

      2. Produce any cars that will sell well at a profit.

      3. Fixed TARP payback terms time/interest – give GM a goal for profitability and financial independence from Uncle Sam.

      The Obama administration would never agree to this because it would not advance their Eco agenda. GM would have chosen to produce high-margin trucks and SUVs domestically in my scenario – and would probably not be in the situation they find themselves in today.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        OK, let’s assume that GM really was required to pump out Cruzes as penance for the bailout. The problem with your argument becomes that for any number of years, people bought them, and in very large numbers. The model’s best year was 2014, when they moved over 270,000 of them. Sales are down because a) the new model isn’t as good as the old one, and b) compacts aren’t selling as well anymore.

        The plain fact of the matter is that the big bad gubmint can’t force anyone to buy any car. People bought a s**t ton of Cruzes because they wanted to. And if GM was still moving 273,000 a year of these, there’s no way it’d have been discontinued, bailout or not. Same is true of the other cars they’re getting rid of.

  • avatar
    TrailerTrash

    sure wish people would stop bashing ford for this.
    after all, these so-called suvs are really cars…shaped differently.
    and who can blame them? ford must follow what buyers are buying.

    and stop requesting everybody begin buying wagons, cause these are wagons, only raised.

    the government loans/bailouts were simply wrong. and all of us who stated so back then and called anti-worker, anti-american, were really the true americans who wanted huge bad businesses to fail…just like all the smaller businesses throughout the nation that do it every day.

    to big to fail is a horrible concept.

    • 0 avatar
      Ion

      Some blame can also be placed on CAFE. The upcoming regulations are less stringent on “trucks” than passenger cars. If we can count the GLA250 as a truck I’m sure ford can count the Ecosport.

    • 0 avatar
      SPPPP

      “too big to fail is a horrible concept.”

      Good point.

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus

        It may be just horrible to comprehend, ever think of that? If the businesses that were bailed out (not just GM and Chrysler) had failed, they would have dragged down many others with them, which would have had drastic effects on our economy for decades to come.

        • 0 avatar
          raph

          John said – “It may be just horrible to comprehend, ever think of that? If the businesses that were bailed out (not just GM and Chrysler) had failed, they would have dragged down many others with them, which would have had drastic effects on our economy for decades to come.”

          Indeed, “too big to fail” blows but its a reality. My beef in the larger context (any business that falls under this umbrella) is that the principle actors running the business into the ground through bad governance never seem to be punished unless its symbolic measure.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      This move is to increase the production of the Expedition and Navigator, both truck-based SUVs. But, I do see your point.

      I would bet that when the next-gen Escape and Lincoln Corsair (if that’s the name they go with to replace the MKC) are introduced, the shifts will be added back to that plant. The “baby Bronco” will probably be built there as well. Who knows? It could replace the Escape and take its name. That wouldn’t bother me at all.

    • 0 avatar
      vehic1

      Allowing a recession to become another Great Depression is also a horrible concept.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      To anyone who really wants to re-fight the bailout battle, consider this: if GM was bound to downsize, and the inevitable result was tens of thousands of workers tossed onto the unemployment rolls, would you rather have them do it a) ten years ago, when it’d have been a body blow to the economy, and GM was a basket case, or b) today, when the economy’s in much better shame and GM’s survival isn’t at stake?

      The question answers itself.

      Of course the bailouts were the right move. End of story.

  • avatar
    KingShango

    I really don’t think Ford will have the same problem as GM, at least optics wise. The Fusion is/was built in Mexico so no hurt feelings there. The Taurus is built in Chicago but that plant also builds Explorers an presumably will pick up the Aviator. And Michigan Assembly dropped the Focus but is picking up the Ranger and Bronco.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      Oakville Assembly will lose Flex and MKT, so all they’ll have to build is Edge and Nautilus. I wonder if another product will be added there, not that the slow-selling Flex and MKT take up much capacity. I agree that Aviator will likely be built in Chicago.

      If there is a (Ford or Lincoln) RWD sedan introduced, I would think it would be built in Flat Rock.

      There is also the matter of the upcoming electric crossover (and other future BEVs that Ford has said are in the works), they may be built in Hermosillo when Fusion leaves. It wouldn’t surprise me to see MKZ stick around a bit longer than Fusion. Although hardly a strong seller, I would think that the higher transaction prices would give it a decent margin.

      • 0 avatar
        KingShango

        I pictured the “baby” Bronco headed for Hermosillo, and I imagine eventually Lincoln will have something that slots under the MKC but that’s pure speculation.

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        The RWD sedan version of the CD6 which was supposed to be the new Conti in 2020 has be canceled. I highly doubt there would have been a Ford version if the Lincoln had made it to market. With the Lincoln axed no way, unless you count the Mustang which will almost certainly ride the same platform once the current model runs its cycle.

  • avatar
    MoDo

    When he was alive Sergio made many remarks about how GM got off easy with the bail-out. They basically got the same treatment as most of the banks, only turfing Rick Wagoner and a few brands, that probably didn’t even need to be axed (Saturn probably did, Poncho and Hummer didn’t).

    You couldn’t have forced GM to find a partner, but you could have scrapped the entire board / management structure and installed an entirely new culture and way of doing things. CEO’s for each brand along with different ad agencies for each brand would have been a good start. It worked like magic for Chrysler.

    But alas, hindsight is always 20/20

  • avatar
    JoDa

    The real problem is that if you create jobs by lowering taxes and regulations and imposing import tariffs, the “Deplorables” will have more money and start having more Deplorable babies. Can you just imagine Hillary’s head spinning?

    • 0 avatar
      lon888

      The “deplorables” heads are going to be the one’s exploding. That “tax break” that the orangutan and repub congress sold to an ignorant America expires in 2024. All the while the “one-percent club” keep their tax breaks (and ridiculously low taxes) for perpetuity. Guess who’s paying for the tax break – working class America. Have a nice day working class schmucks.

      • 0 avatar
        civicjohn

        Ion888, I’m quite happy that my state is no longer in the business of offsetting the payments of state and local taxes to those states who choose to foist them on the folks living there.

        If you reside in one of those states, I’m sure every penny they take from you goes straight to those “working class schmucks”. I hope you enjoy writing those checks!

  • avatar
    jimmy2x

    The constant political bickering is really getting old. I’ve been mostly lurking here since the Farago days, and while there has always been some of it , now it seems like a Twitter fight. Most of us don’t give a damn about your political views and you are just embarrassing yourselves.

  • avatar
    lon888

    I’m glad Ford is doing well, but I don’t want them to be a suck up to that orange skinned d-bag.

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