Ford to Add 1,800 Jobs in Kentucky to Build New Escape SUV

Ford to Add 1,800 Jobs in Kentucky to Build New Escape SUV Ford Motor (F) plans to invest $600 million in a Kentucky plant to build the next-generation Escape compact sports-utility vehicle, creating an 1,800 additional jobs, the automaker said Thursday.

Ford plans to add the new jobs incrementally after its Louisville Assembly plant is rehabbed and reopened late next year, the Dearborn, Mich.-based company said in a statement. Construction at the state-of-the art plant is to begin later this month with the help of United Auto Workers employees.

The plant is the third body-on-frame truck plant that Ford is retooling to build more fuel-efficient vehicles based on global platforms, Ford said. The Louisville plant previously produced the Ford Explorer midsize SUV. Production of a replacement for the aging Explorer has been shifted to Chicago, where a more car-like version is now being built.

Ford said it plans to unveil details of the next-generation Escape in the form of a concept vehicle at next month's North American International Auto Show, held annually in Detroit.

When the retooled Louisville plant resumes production next year, it will operate on two shifts with about 2,900 employees, an increase from the current single shift of about 1,100 employees, Ford said. The 1,800 additional jobs are expected to be filled through a combination of employees transferred from other facilities, reactivated workers on indefinite layoff at the time of the new Escape's introduction, and hiring new workers, Ford said.

Tax Incentives Aided Plan

Transforming the Louisville plant further proves Ford's commitment to American manufacturing and to its goal of producing high-quality, fuel-efficient vehicles that consumers will buy, said Mark Fields, Ford's president of the Americas.

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"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," he said.

Ford is eligible for up to $240 million in state and local tax incentives during the next 10 years if it meets investment and job-creation goals at both the Louisville Assembly plant and its Kentucky Truck plant, also in Louisville.

The incentives are based on an initial investment of $800 million, with $600 million to be used to overhaul Louisville Assembly. Ford previously invested $200 million in the truck plant to accommodate production of the Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator large SUVs.

Ford also credited the Obama administration for promoting the use of advanced technology in U.S. plants through federal incentives passed by Congress. The Louisville Assembly plant is one of 11 Ford facilities in the nation participating in the program, Ford said.

Once overhauled, the Louisville Assembly plant will be capable of building up to six different vehicles simultaneously, though it will initially focus on building the new Escape.

After the plant comes on line late next year, Fields said, Ford will have nearly 6,600 employees in Kentucky.

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