Ford Motor Company today announced it is investing $600 million in Louisville plant

LOUISVILLE, Ky., Dec. 9, 2010 – Ford Motor Company today announced it is investing $600 million to transform its Louisville Assembly Plant into a modern, flexible facility that is building the next-generation Escape for the North America market starting late next year.

The plant is the third North American body-on-frame truck plant that Ford is re-tooling to enable production of fuel-efficient products from its global vehicle platforms. Louisville Assembly has been building the Ford Explorer SUV since 1989.

Ford moved production of the all-new 2011 Explorer to Chicago Assembly and is overhauling the Louisville facility to build the next-generation Escape and providing future manufacturing flexibility.

When the transformed Louisville Assembly Plant restarts production in 2011, it will operate on two shifts with approximately 2,900 employees – up from today’s one shift and approximately 1,100 employees. The 1,800 additional jobs are expected to be filled through a combination of transferring employees from other facilities, re-activating workers on indefinite layoff at the time of launch and hiring new workers.

“Our Louisville Assembly Plant transformation further proves our commitment to American manufacturing and our commitment to deliver the high-quality, fuel-efficient vehicles people really want,” said Mark Fields, Ford’s president of The Americas. “Working closely with the UAW and Kentucky officials, we have found a way to competitively deliver an important new vehicle that is good for our customers and supports our plan to deliver a well-balanced product portfolio of cars, trucks and utilities.”

Ford will signal its future direction for the next-generation Escape through a concept vehicle debuting at the North American International Auto Show in January.  Later in the year, the plant reopens with tooling and facility upgrades in its final assembly area and body shop. Reprogrammable tooling in the body shop will allow the plant to produce multiple vehicle models at the same time without requiring downtime for tooling changeover – making Louisville Assembly Plant Ford’s most flexible high-volume plant in the world.

With this new technology, Louisville Assembly can build up to six different vehicles at the same time, allowing Ford to meet demand more quickly in the event of potential shifting customer preferences dictated by changing economic conditions.