Ford Motor plans to spend $400 million to overhaul its assembly plant in Kansas City, Mo., after production of the current version of the Ford Escape compact SUV moves to another facility, the automaker said Tuesday.
The move ensures that some 3,750 workers at the Kansas City plant will continue to have jobs. In addition to the Escape, the plant also produces the Ford F-150 pickup truck on a separate line.
Ford (F) said it plans to upgrade the Missouri plant to accommodate production of a new vehicle to be named at a later date. Escape production will be shifted to Ford's Louisville Assembly plant in Kentucky later this year.
"This investment and promise of a new vehicle to be built in Kansas City reinforces Ford's commitment to U.S. manufacturing and American jobs," Mark Fields, Ford president of the Americas, said in a statement. "Ford is committed to doing everything it takes to work with its partners, including the United Auto Workers, to remain competitive."
No More "Us Against Them," UAW Says
The announcement comes as Ford and Detroit's two other automakers are about to begin negotiating a new contract with the UAW. Union President Bob King said last week that the UAW has embraced "radical change" and dispensed with its "us against them" mentality in negotiating with management of domestic automakers, but he labeled foreign-based car companies that operate nonunion plants in the U.S. as human-rights violators.
The Kansas City plant is the fourth plant in North America that Ford has overhauled or plans to as it seeks to reinvigorate its vehicle lineup to better compete against foreign makes.
Lawmakers in Missouri last year approved legislation that makes manufacturers such as Ford eligible for tax incentives should they meet certain investment and job-creation goals in the state.
In December, Ford announced plans to rehab the Louisville plant to build the next-generation Ford Escape that will ultimately result in an additional 1,800 jobs at the facility. Last week, Ford debuted the Vertrek concept vehicle at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Industry watchers believe the Vertrek is likely the basis for the new Escape.
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