Detroit’s three automakers are stepping up their concentration on trucks and SUVs during the second half of 2020 even as the COVID-19 pandemic lingers and electric vehicles absorb an increasing share of their capital spending.
Fiat Chrysler, which will soon go through a name change to Stellantis after its merger with PSA, is now pushing ahead with the revamping its Warren Truck plant, just outside Detroit, to build the new Jeep Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer.
FCA CEO Mike Manley said during a conference call with analysts last week. FCA expects the Warren plant to be tied up with construction for 14 weeks this summer and fall, Manley said.
However, when the project is finished the Jeep brand will have a new product that will have few peers or competitors offer – a three-row SUV capable of going where there are no roads, said Manley, who also said that FCA is confident it can meet the challenge from Ford’s new line of Broncos. The Wagoneer goes the Bronco one better since Ford’s new offering does not have a three-row vehicle.
Ford said so far it has received more than 100,000 reservations for the two new Bronco it unveiled last month.
Jim Farley, Ford chief operating officer, said during the company’s recent conference call with analysts that Ford is going through a detailed capacity analysis to see if whether it can add a third production shift to Michigan Assembly plant in Wayne, Michigan, west of Detroit.
Farley did not offer analysts a timetable for the completion of the study but indicated that Ford would prefer to finish the project sooner rather than later. However, Ford also is anticipating the launch of the new Ford F-150 during the fourth quarter.
Tim Stone, Ford’s chief financial officer, said the company now expects a profit of between $500 million and $1.5 billion in the third quarter but cautioned the launch of the new F-150, coupled with the launch of the Bronco Sport and Mustang Mach-E will leave the automaker in the red for fourth quarter but it will be in a much better position for 2021 as several new products, including the new F-150 will be available for sale.
General Motors also announced that it is planning to hire 200 workers at its assembly plant in Fort Wayne, Indiana to boost production of full-size pickup trucks by 1,000 units per month.
GM Chief Financial Officer Dhivya Suryadevara said one bright spot going forwards is that GM is at the end of a sweeping change in its truck portfolio. The down time in the last three years is behind GM. “The important product launches are behind us,” Suryadevara said.