Ford Motor Co. is planning to increase production of the Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator as both vehicles continue see sales rise in the large SUV segment.
Boosting the production of the Expedition and Navigator after the annual summer shutdown in July will raise the output at Ford’s Kentucky Truck Plant in Louisville, Kentucky. as much as 20% as it puts more pressure on archrival General Motors, which has dominated the full-size SUV segment for nearly 15 years.
Raising production requires more people to build the two popular vehicles so Ford is adding 550 jobs at the Kentucky Truck Plant and moving approximately that same number of employees from the Louisville Assembly Plant, Ford’s other assembly plant in the state of Kentucky where it builds the new Ford Escape and Lincoln Aviator.
“Kentucky Truck Plant is home to two of Ford and Lincoln’s most successful vehicles,” said John Savona, Ford vice president, North American manufacturing. “After seeing a continued increase in customer demand for Expedition and Navigator, we are boosting production for a second time to meet it.”
(Ford investing $25M to boost output of popular Expedition, Navigator. Click Here for the story.)
The company invested $25 million into the Kentucky Truck Plant in February to boost production of its big Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator models by 25%.
The project, which follows a $900 million update of the Louisville factory, introduces an array of high-tech tools, including 400 new robots, as well as a 3D printer that will allow workers to make parts and tools on the fly.
Retail sales of the Expedition eight-passenger full-sized SUV surged 35% and it gained 5.6 percentage points in market segment share last year. Expedition’s average transaction price increased $11,700 and is now $62,700.
(Click Here for our first drive in the 2019 Ford Expedition.)
Navigator sales grew 70% in 2018 from 2017, to 17,839 sold, giving Navigator its best sales year since 2007, Ford officials noted as they made the announcement, Savona said.
To produce the additional Expeditions and Navigators, Ford has increased the line speed at Kentucky Truck Plant.
The manufacturing team at the Louisville plant analyzed the cycle times of each operation and found there were jobs that could not be completed in the allotted time. So they added more workstations and split up some tasks to ensure employees can complete the jobs in time.
(For more about the new Expedition, Click Here.)
The plant team also had to get creative in its use of space, adding pits and platforms so more line operators working in the same area can execute tasks while complying with varying height requirements as the vehicle moves down the assembly line, Ford officials said.