USA: Wayne Assembly to become sole North American Ford Focus plant - paper

By just-auto.com editorial team | 17 November 2003

Ford plans to spend $US410 million to expand production at its two assembly plants in the Michigan city of Wayne, a move that will help ensure the long-term employment outlook for more than 7,000 employees, the Detroit News reported.

The report said that, within the next two or three years, Ford expects to consolidate production of its Focus small car at its Wayne Assembly plant and build a new longer version of its Expedition sport-utility vehicle at its nearby Michigan Truck plant, which already produces the standard Expedition and Lincoln Navigator SUVs.

Details of Ford's expansion project were included in an application to Wayne for a 12-year tax abatement, Peter McInerney, the city's community planning director, told the Detroit News, which noted that Ford is also seeking state tax breaks.

The paper said Ford declined to outline its plans but has scheduled an announcement next month regarding its operations in Wayne.

"We're looking at a number of options at Wayne Assembly," Ford spokesman Ed Lewis told the motor city newspaper.

Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano told The Detroit News that Ford informed him of its expansion plans.

The paper said Ford will move production of three and five-door hatchback versions of the Focus to Wayne Assembly from its plant in Hermosillo, Mexico, making the Michigan plant, which currently builds four-door sedan and five-door wagon versions, the sole North American factory building the compact car.

As part of the move, McInerney told the Detroit News Ford will also relocate some stamping operations to Wayne from Mexico.

The Detroit News said Hermosillo will begin producing the new midsize Ford Futura, in 2005, forcing Ford to move Focus production.

The paper said Ford plans to install modern, flexible body shops at Wayne Assembly and Michigan Truck, allowing them to build multiple models.

The truck plant, located next to the car factory, will begin building a new sport-utility vehicle based on the Expedition in two or three years, McInerney told the Detroit News.

The paper said Ford is building the extended Expedition to eventually replace its hulking Excursion SUV, which has struggled to compete with the Chevrolet Suburban.

The Detroit News said Wayne Assembly employs about 3,750 hourly and salaried workers and about 4,000 people work at Michigan Truck - the expansions are not expected to create jobs but will help stabilise employment at the plants at a time when Ford is actively reducing its global work force.