Ford Motor has said it is more than halfway to its target of slashing production capacity by a million vehicles in North America by 2007, including the planned closing next year of an Ohio plant.

"We are on our track to do that," Matt DeMars, Ford vice president of North American vehicle operations, told Reuters, adding: "We still think we will meet our commitment in the next two years or so." "We are over half," DeMars said, referring to the targeted capacity.

Reuters noted that, as part of a sweeping restructuring plan started in 2002 to improve profits, Ford told of plans to reduce production capacity in North America by 1 million units, or about 18% from 5.7 million.

The plan included closing as many as five assembly plants. This year, Ford closed its plant in Ontario, Canada; and Edison, New Jersey; as part of the plan, the report said. To reduce more capacity, Ford will eliminate one shift at its St. Louis assembly plant in January and close its Lorain, Ohio, assembly plant late next year. Those cuts will not be enough to meet the target, and Ford will have to complete a strategy to get to that point.

"We are not at a million yet, and over the next two years the strategies need to be finalised," DeMars told the news agency.

The Lorain plant builds Ford Econoline vans, and its production will be consolidated at another Ohio plant, DeMars told Reuters at a Ford truck plant in Wayne, Michigan, which is getting a $US300 million expansion.

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