To meet surging demand for its best-selling F-150 pickup trucks, Ford Motor Co. plans to add 900 jobs and a third shift at its Claycomo plant.
By STEVE EVERLY
The Kansas City Star
The company confirmed in a statement that the new jobs will be announced at a 10:30 a.m. event at the plant with Joe Hinrichs, Fords president of the Americas, and Gov. Jay Nixon in attendance.
Our Built Ford Tough F-150 is Americas favorite pickup, and were going to step up operations at Kansas City to ensure we have enough trucks to meet customer demand, Hinrichs said in the statement.
The new F-150 shift will begin production in the third quarter of this year. In addition, there will be a previously announced addition of 1,100 jobs at the Claycomo plant when the Transit commercial van begins production next year.
The company said about half the 2,000 jobs will be filled with new hires. The rest will be filled by Claycomo workers put on temporary furlough when the manufacturing of the Ford Escape was moved to another manufacturing plant.
Jimmy Settles, a UAW vice president, said in a statement that the additional jobs are the direct result of the dedicated effort our UAW members display every day at facilities all across the country and serve as another reminder of the resilience of the American workers and our nations manufacturing sector.
He added that Ford is three-quarters of the way to delivering on its promise to create 12,000 more hourly jobs in the United States by 2015. That would bring Fords U.S. hourly workforce to 49,000.
Ford is spending $1.1 billion on its Claycomo complex for production of the F-150 and Transit van. The investment includes a new stamping facility, which has been completed, and a 78,000-square-foot paint shop. The Claycomo plant now builds the Ford F-150 regular, SuperCab and SuperCrew with 2,450 hourly employees.
The additional workers for the F-150 and Transit van will push the workforce past 4,000.
The announcement of the third F-150 shift comes three months after General Motors said it would invest $600 million in its Fairfax plant in Kansas City, Kan., for a new paint shop and other upgrades. Though the investment will create no additional jobs at the plant, it was seen as a vote of confidence for the plants future and its 3,900 hourly and salaried employees.
It also comes amid mounting evidence of an improving economy and rebounding auto industry. Auto sales are up sharply, but trucks sales are growing even faster with the F-150 retaining its lead as the best selling pickup truck in the U.S.
Sales of Fords F-series pickups increased 24 percent to almost 60,000 in April compared with a year ago. It was the best sales for the month since 2006.
Mark Smith, president of Dick Smith Ford in Raytown, said every month this year his dealerships F-150 sales have grown 20 to 24 percent over the same months last year.
There was a big pent-up demand that is starting to break loose, he said.
Chrysler and General Motors also reported strong pickup sales in April.
Pickups are leading the charge, said Jeremy Acvedo, an analyst for Edmunds.com, an automotive website. Its a real boom for the domestic automakers.
The improving housing market has also helped pickup sales, in part, because they are the favored transportation in the construction trades, he said.
Chrysler and GM are introducing redesigned pickup trucks, which will be tough competition for the F-150. But a redesign of the F-150 is also in the works, and because truck owners are known for being attached to a brand it will be hard to dislodge Ford from the top spot.
When you look at the segment its fiercely loyal, Acvedo said.
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